Leadership in a

April 7, 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

COVID-19 is creating unprecedented pressure on workplaces and economies across the world. While most organisations have a crisis plan in place, it is fair to assume that most of these plans could never get any organisation ready for what is happening now. Here are some lessons from BRAC on how our leadership is coping through the current pandemic:

Remain calm

It is crucial that leaders do not get absorbed into panic. Employees look to their leaders and model their behaviour, especially in times of crisis. Leaders must remain calm and manage their emotions. They need to keep their staff and partners updated on the situation, but be extra careful to share credible information from reliable sources, to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Model agility and humanity

Leaders must lead from the front, exhibiting the values and behaviors they expect from the team. They must reach out and be prepared to listen to and support employees’ concerns. Leaders also have to be agile, not only in changing plans and work schedules but also in their own leadership style. Right now, for instance, an affiliate and participative style of leadership, where decisions are made through consensus and based on relationships, is often the best.

Be clear and transparent

People are nervous about the implications of the virus. It is essential to keep them engaged, informed, and safe through dialogue and actions. Your biggest priority is to show a supportive and steady hand. Communicate quickly and clearly to be in front of potential issues rather than having to counter misinformation.

Embrace new ways to work

Leaders need to introduce and implement alternate ways of collaboration. When using new tools, model good behaviour from the start – stick to designated timing, turn the camera on and pay attention in the call and solicit participation from everyone online.

Engage, engage, engage

High engagement in a workplace is always super effective. Engagement in the current situation is needed more than any time before as COVID-19 has employees not working in their usual spots or, worse, temporarily not working. There are three keys to effective engagement – Listen to employees, act on the feedback they provide, and, importantly, communicate “We hear you, and here’s what we’ve done based on your feedback.”

When it comes to uncertainty, we may not always be able to control the outcome, but we can control our response to it. There will be leaders who will emerge out of this crisis. Strive to be one of those.


Rashedul Alam is the Head of the BRAC Leadership Academy, BRAC and Abdul Momin Shashi is the Manager of the Leadership Academy, BRAC

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1 year ago

Good one

Habiba Akther
Habiba Akther
1 year ago

Appreciate the points which you have highlighted here. A good read. Moreover we need to know what employees can offer further to help leaders during this pandemic.

Delruba Mahmudkhan
Delruba Mahmudkhan
1 year ago

Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful write up!