The past year has brought on a wave of unique challenges and tough lessons for many business leaders. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the Black Live Matters Movement, we are seeing leaders having to step up and hold spaces they might have previously avoided. It’s time for leaders to be actively paying attention to their environment and shifting their strategies with the changing times – not relying on old methods. As a business leader, I recognize that I must stay present and passionate about the problems and issues of my community! To be a great leader, you must be active NOW, not later. I believe that all leaders should be doing these 4 things to stay ahead in our current situation:

Plan for multiple outcomes

As much as we might try to strategize and organize, the reality is that things never go exactly to plan. As a business leader and a father, being able to adapt and flex with new situations has become second nature. It is less about predicting outcomes and more about being able to prepare for multiple outcome possibilities. Despite valiant efforts, this year has made it clear that even the best-laid plans are not always immune to global events. We are now operating in space never before explored – with restricted limitations, the absence of social groups, and a lack of certainty. Before COVID-19 changed our world, planning an event, such as a fundraiser, could be done in a variety of ways. Whether it was an event or a sponsored gala – there have always been alternative methods at an arm’s reach. Moving forward, leaders must be able to adapt without their usual tools and find new methods of meeting their goals.

Be present

Leading a team is all about support, collaboration, and setting goals. If you are not meeting these three factors with your team, you are likely not taking the time to check-in with them. In a year marked by uncertainty on both a personal and global scale – finding ways to connect with your staff is more valuable than ever. Being present in the moment will give you a better understanding of how you can support your people and give them the tools to meet your company goals. Take the time to check on how your people are managing. Keep in mind that what might have been beneficial in March may be out of date in November. Staying connected and understanding that everyone is feeling the impact of this year will only improve your connection with your team.

Lead with empathy

While being present will help you connect better with your team, leading with empathy will help to better understand how they are feeling. Not only are people feeling the weight from the constant barrage of bad news, but they are experiencing external stress about their friends, family, and financial stability. This past year has affected every person in one way or another. Take a moment to remind yourself that everyone takes experiences differently and that some people might be struggling more than others right now. If a team member is showing signs of decreased productivity or effectiveness, make sure to consider all angles rather than jump to conclusions. Leading with empathy allows room for conversation, respect, and understanding.

Take ownership

This year has brought on a wave of accountability demands for business owners and leaders when it comes to both political and social issues. From the ongoing pandemic to the Black Lives Movement, leaders are finding themselves thrust into conversations they may have previously avoided. While I can’t speak to how a leader should manage their company, I can speak to the expectation that leaders take ownership of the actions of their business. People want to support companies that are aligned with their own beliefs and community contributions. Being at the front of the conversation, rather than waiting until it comes to you, is the best way to ensure clear communication and positioning.