Leading in a Crisis: 5 Areas of Personal Growth You Must Master

by Mike O'Neill

Are you a leader that doesn’t do well during a crisis? Do you want to learn how to master the five areas of personal growth crucial for ensuring your company survives the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a leader, your staff is looking for you to be their rock. They want to know their jobs are secure. They need to know that they have jobs to come back to when quarantine is finally over. This puts lots of pressure on you with so many people looking to you for answers, and if you don’t have the right mindset, it can spell disaster for your company.

Rumors are likely to spread like wildfire if you don’t take control of the narrative quickly and supply your workers with the answers and facts they need to feel confident in your leadership capabilities.

When you speak, you need to represent a pillar of strength and authenticity. Your staff doesn’t want to hear everything is fine when it’s not, so you need to be upfront with them about the situation. Presenting a well-thought-out plan to mitigate potential damage will alleviate their fears. It lets them know you have action steps for moving forward.

To do this, and do it well, you’ll need to brush up on your leadership skills by reflecting on your purpose, values, strengths, priorities, and wisdom before creating a mitigation plan and presenting it to your staff. Keep reading to explore each of these areas of personal growth further.

5 Areas of Personal Growth You Must Master

Do you want to be a Leader who inspires and reassures their workforce in times of crisis — like COVID? Then the first place to start is by clarifying or redefining your purpose.

Mastery Level 1: Purpose

Your purpose is the driving force that propels you out of bed every morning and gets you excited to start your day. Without a purpose, you’ll quickly become lost and unmotivated, struggling to find the will to keep going in these trying times.

Your workforce will be just as lost as you are because their captain isn’t taking charge and steering the ship with a narrow focus. Defining your purpose helps you hone in on what tasks and projects will move the needle, and which ones won’t — which is critical when navigating a crisis.

When you’re in the middle of a situation like the one caused by COVID, decisions such as what projects to take on and what opportunities to pursue may change drastically, so you need to be prepared to change on a moment’s notice.

The purpose that used to drive you and your company in the past might need to be reconsidered and adjusted to better align with the current state of your business.

Pull out a notebook or load up your favorite word processing program and think through the vision you have for your company's future. What drives you? What motivates you? How can you use your company to fulfill your passions and give you a purpose?

Are you struggling for inspiration and not sure what to write? Donald Miller is incredibly inspirational, and his podcast helps pick me up and give me the kick in the pants I need from time to time. Listen to his podcast interview with Michael Hyatt on becoming a vision-driven leader when you need some motivation and new ideas. 

StoryBrand Podcast Episode #199

“Well, first of all, I think vision is the first and most important task of any leader, because if you don’t know where you’re going — if you don’t have the destination identified — how are you going to lead anybody to it?” 

Once you have your purpose and company vision clearly defined, put it somewhere in plain view where you work to help remind yourself of your purpose daily.

Mastery Level 2: Values

Defining your values involves determining what lines you’re willing to cross — or not — personally and professionally.

What goals and accomplishments do you want to achieve with your company? What about in your personal life?

How far are you willing to go, and what are you willing to give up or do to make your goals a reality? Knowing where your boundaries are and what lines you morally refuse to cross makes it easier to make complex decisions.

In a TED Talk James Franklin says the necessity of defining core values boils down to “fostering healthy and positive relationships.”

Why We Need Core Values TED Talk

“It’s all about relationships — in any organization, in any corporation, on any team, on any college campus. It’s about relationships. That is our philosophy. Anything we do is about fostering healthy and positive relationships on our team and in our organization.” 

Brainstorm your values by writing down what’s most important to you. What kind of person do you strive to be? What kind of leader? Think through what actions or behaviors you need to take to become the person you envision yourself to be.

Don’t keep your values to yourself. Share them with your family at home and your team at work so you can align values with all the people close to you and within your company culture.

Mastery Level 3: Strengths

Your strengths are what you do best. The things that no one else can do half as good as you. They’re the things you’re an expert in. 

To learn what your strengths are, you need to be highly self-aware and honest about your shortcomings. Self-awareness is a healthy trait that every leader worth their salt should have. Without self-awareness, you’ll be blind to your weaknesses, which could spell disaster for your company.

As much as you want to wear every hat within your organization because you feel like no one else can do the job better — that’s just not the case. In reality, it’s a shortcut to burnout and overwhelms, which could damage your company's reputation when things slip through the cracks.

The Unapologetic Beauty of Focusing on Your Strengths TED Talk

“In fact, John McKnight and John Kretzmann from Northwestern University, they pioneered and telegraphed a strategy of identifying your strengths and assets and mobilizing them. And they have found that it’s been a recipe for success for community development from the inside out. And you can apply this to individuals, universities, to cities, and towns, and countries. And in fact, you can actually build a culture of well-being, a healthy community, and success for life using this strategy.” 

Don’t just think about your strengths as a Leader, though. Think about your personal strengths and weaknesses outside your business, for instance within your household, and don’t be afraid to outsource those types of tasks as well. For example, maybe you’re not the best at cleaning, or you just don’t have the time. Hire a housekeeper to do the work for you, just like you would hire someone to do work within your organization.

To discover your strengths and weaknesses, make a list of all the tasks you do each day. Score the tasks on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being not strong at all and 5 being very strong. Organize them into separate categories for personal and work tasks.

Review your strengths and make plans for mitigating your weaknesses by filling the talent gaps. Compare your options for filling those gaps and include them in your plan.

Mastery Level 4: Priorities

Prioritizing tasks, projects, and goals for the long-term starts with deciding what you should put first. You need to know where these items rank on your priority list, so you’re focusing on the ones that’ll have the greatest impact before the rest.

When you clarify what’s most important, it narrows your focus and prevents you from being bogged down by things you shouldn’t be burning mental calories on right now. Prioritizing things in your life empowers you to be confident in your decisions — no matter what they are.

Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs

“How do I decide what’s next and prioritize? My default approach is to look at my list of to-dos and projects I’m considering, and I try to optimize for skills and relationships. So, I’ll ask myself: even if this project fails, will I develop relationships and skills that will persist past that failure?” 

To reprioritize your life, write down everything that matters to you and why. What are all the things you need and want to accomplish? Score every item on your list on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Review your priorities and think about what distractions are holding you back. What’s keeping you from putting 110% into the things that matter most to you. Are you working long nights due to high-maintenance clients?

Are you spending too much time on low priority tasks and not enough on those that are more profitable? What about your family? Are you missing out on important moments with your spouse and kids because work is taking up all your time?

Think through every item on your list and create a plan that lets you focus on the most critical things on your list while limiting future distractions.

Mastery Level 5: Wisdom

Wisdom doesn’t come from the belief that you know it all, and you’re always right. Wisdom comes when you accept that you don’t know everything, and you’re open to new learning opportunities from others in your field when they present themselves.

Arrogance combined with ego and refusing to admit your flaws and weaknesses — only stunts your growth and ruins a chance to gain more knowledge — decreasing your chance of attaining new wisdom. Finding the right teachers and listening to their guidance could be the difference between your company succeeding or failing — especially in times of crisis. 

When the future of your workforce and your family rests in your hands, you have to be willing to seek outside help when necessary vs. toughing it out and attempting to weather the storm all by yourself.

It’s impossible to know and account for everything, and your experience only takes you so far. To increase your wisdom, actively seek out others with traits and skills you admire, and learn from them. Observe them, ask them questions, and don’t be afraid to have a healthy debate with people of differing perspectives.


“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

Next Steps…

Now that you know the 5 areas of growth you need to work on, next is to focus on creating a risk mitigation plan to navigate the COVID crisis.

That’s where we come in. Our experts have been helping businesses just like yours create a plan of action, and we’re confident we can help you too. Some of the ways we can help you and your company are:

When you need help weathering a crisis like COVID, you need a business coach who has your back and has the expertise you need to cover all your bases. 

Download your free copy of our guide to managing humans to get you started, and schedule your free 30-minute strategy session with our experts now to get the help you need to survive COVID today.

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