How to strengthen your leadership muscles in unprecedented times

Updated: Apr 25

Practically overnight, the coronacrisis has prompted leaders to revisit their leadership skills and adapt to new and unprecedented circumstances. My most recent interactions with many of them have urged me to write about my observations and my thoughts on the matter.

Leaders’ priorities may have suddenly shifted from innovation and expansion to controlling costs and maintaining liquidity. This has become the new normal until “further notice” for many and certainly comes with a great deal of challenges. Here are a few that were brought to my attention in the last few weeks:

  • · Team shortages,

  • · Supply chain challenges,

  • · Logistical issues,

  • · Maintaining the organization alive through and post-crisis,

  • · Taking speed over precision decisions (accept to live in the grey zone for the sake of not having sufficient time for long analytical decision-making processes),

  • · Become the most adaptable they’ve ever been,

  • · Deliver on time even (and especially) in these difficult circumstances,

  • · etc.

Not only leaders have to lead through uncertainty, but have a team working from home all the while going through dramatic changes in their daily life due to new home-office setting. Children are at home and partner needs to share office space (if they even have one, that is) AND the "business hours" . Because these emerging challenges are numerous and different in nature, when they pile up, they can feel overwhelming and heavy on leadership muscles.

What are the actual skills we need our leaders to have or quickly develop? What are the new priorities in terms of team leadership? Leaders will need to keep everyone healthy (priority number one), engaged, informed and motivated. How does one go about this?

Here are the most important aspects to consider when leading through a crisis:


In stressful times such as now, you are expected to be your employees’ “True North”. They will look up to you to find hope and inspiration. Lead as your team and company’s anchor and use your organizational purpose and values as something you can always go back to, when in doubt.


Be more present than ever. Be visible to your employees. They need to see your face and know it’s going to be okay and that you are there for them. So many technologies allow for video calls, there is great value in using video versus audio for your calls with your team.


Leave your ego behind. Don’t be afraid to get personal with your employees. As our dearest Simon Sinek puts it, “Empathy is about being concerned about the human being and not just their output”. Empathy allows leaders to build and develop relationships with their team. In times of crisis, this is crucial to successful leadership.


Open communication is based on integrity and a non-judging mind. Create a safe space for your employees so they can feel confident that they are being HEARD. Speaking of safe space, allow yourself and them to be vulnerable. Use your active listening skills. To exercise this skill, try to summarize what your employee is telling you as if you were to write a headline for an article about the concern they are sharing with you. Then tell your employee what this headline would be. Wait and see if this resonates with them. If not, try again with a new formulation.

Once the fire is extinguished and we will suddenly find ourselves in the “post-crisis” world, it will be obvious which leaders rose to the challenge and those who struggled. Most importantly, how will successful leaders during this crisis shape the new post-crisis normal?

Training your team for crisis and post-crisis leadership

Some small investment in coaching will go a long way in strengthening your leadership’s effectiveness, - or if you will, grow your leadership muscles in the areas of crisis management and resilience. This will help leaders and their teams gain clarity in moments of complete uncertainty and in dealing with the new “normal” we will find ourselves in the post-crisis world.

In these unprecedented circumstances, I offer a free consultation to go through your present situation and identify the right coaching plan. This will enable leaders and their teams to enhance performance even (and especially) during these crucial times.

👉 Book your free one-hour consultation now

The current circumstances may have also brought up some questions around the way you operate your business overall. New ways create new solutions! If you need to rethink your processes and are at a loss as to where to start, you might want to consider reaching out to an expert in creative thinking and strategic implementation. Contact Mélody Roussy-Parent from RethinkPath at for more information and read her new article “Time to rethink our path to flourish again”.


Geneviève Retzlaff

Grow Better Together


Grow Better Together 

Geneviève Retzlaff
München, Germany

T. +49 (0) 89 750 77 897

M. +49 (0) 172 5858 905