Leading Through Crisis

Beth Burgy

Onward is an exclusive content series authored by broadhead’s thought leaders, highlighting their unique perspectives on adapting, adjusting and pushing forward.

Written by Beth Burgy | President and Chief Strategy Officer

When you’re in a leadership position in any organization, you generally know what’s expected of you. Or at least you know what to worry about…talent retention, professional development, P&L statements and quality of the work all come to mind.

But COVID-19 turned everything on its head. In addition to the above list, you find yourself in a role that requires more transparency, more empathy and more communication about things that don’t necessarily drive business but are important to team members.

In the 158 days that our agency has been working from home, I’ve been consistently sending agency-wide emails that focus on life. Not business, not clients, not marketing, but life. Because it’s important for me as a leader to acknowledge that while the work is important, so is maintaining a human connection with everyone. Through these emails, I’ve tried to put the following lessons in action which allow me to be a better leader:

Be yourself. Whether they wanted to or not, our agency now knows way more about my quirks and habits. From my reaction to getting a COVID-19 test (five seconds of unpleasantness), to my efforts in redoing my backyard and the trials and tribulations of watering grass seed, to the fascination of seeing my real hair color for the first time in years. And, for the record, the real hair color is back under cover.

Be relatable. A couple of weeks ago the overwhelming boredom of life was really getting to me. I think we’ve all hit a similar wall. It was a Friday afternoon and, honestly, it could have been a Tuesday for all the difference in the days. My weekend fun? I got my car washed for the first time since March. Exciting, huh? But, we’re all in the same boat and I wanted my agency to know that I’m feeling it too. Bored and trying our best to find enjoyment in the little things. Even if that little thing is a shiny, clean car.

Be inclusive. It’s easy to get caught up in the complications that parents with young children face, having to be teacher and parent. But it’s equally important to acknowledge that everyone has complications in their life – from not being able to see a loved one, to worrying about high-risk friends and family, to sharing space with roommates or coping with being alone. We can’t over-index for one group. Whatever stress each of us is dealing with is the most important thing to that particular person, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

Life isn’t going back to normal anytime soon. As we all forge our path into the new normal, we need to continue to overcommunicate and do so with grace, empathy and understanding.