Vaya Insights
Leading Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Navigating Leadership Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Leading during this time of crisis is not easy. We’ve been asked quite a bit lately: “What recommendations do you have to help people manage and lead their teams in this new work at home environment?"

Vaya helps our clients focus on the 3 Cs of helping their people work from home during a time of crisis:


Don’t be afraid to over-communicate at this time – it’s critical to keep team members informed. Communication also means taking every opportunity to listen to the concerns and needs of each of your people. It’s also important to use videoconferencing as much as possible so people feel connected. Promote an environment in which team members are recreating fun activities together but in a virtual manner – virtual coffee breaks, lunches, maybe even a virtual cocktail hour at the end of a long week so people can interact and laugh together. At Vaya, we do a daily team huddle for 15 minutes to get everyone engaged in a virtual meeting for updates, to share a laugh, and feel that sense of community.


In times like this, people need work as a way of feeling a sense of control and accomplishment. A client who is getting this right has initiated a weekly sprint mentality incorporating shorter-term goals that are crystal-clear and has given their people freedom to execute on these. This increases productivity while at the same time giving people a chance to take control of work assignments and feel that short-term positive burst from accomplishing goals. While the outside world may feel out of their hands, work can give people a sense of control.


This is not business as usual. Recognize that there is a need to lead with empathy and heart. Use this time to make yourself open and accessible to listen to your people; many are not experienced at working from home, and even if they are, they are not used to doing it with a spouse and 3 kids at home with them. Be steady – not too high and not too low. Take the time to check-in: do people have the equipment they need? How are they feeling? Listen and be a safe place to land.


leadership-concept-using-blue-people-icon-cube-UPENZLA6 Ways Leaders Often Miss The Mark:

  1. Not ensuring employees have the equipment and tools they need to be at their best at home: technology, communication tools, computer programs, etc.
  2. Leaving their team members on an island. Managers taking the “call me/text me if you need me” approach are missing out on opportunities to connect with and ask how people are coping. Just as detrimental, the opposite of this would be micromanaging and pinging team members every 15 minutes or after work hours. This can convey a lack of trust.
  3. Treating this as business as usual and not allowing dialogue about this very real crisis. You need to engage with teams and team members and check in to see how each is handling things and if they need support. Often, employees just need an opening to talk and the manager just needs to reach out and offer an empathetic ear.
  4. Stepping back and not giving team members meaningful and specific work to do. Perhaps managers are thinking, “Let’s give people time to adjust and ease up on work.” However, providing specific work assignments as well as giving people autonomy to accomplish these is usually a big positive. It gives the employee a sense of much-needed control and accomplishment.
  5. Becoming the center of the wheel versus bringing the team together regularly with the assistance of technology. At this time, we advise our clients to increase communication and use of video and team meetings using tools like Zoom and Skype. At Vaya, we have instituted a daily 15-minute virtual huddle and we’re using video conferencing so people can be seen and can feel connected as a team.
  6. Managers are human and are feeling the pressure as well. In working with your people, it is so important to project an even-keeled approach – never too high and never too low. Try to avoid projecting the voice of gloom onto the future. Instead, strike a balance by talking about positive notes: we are fortunate to be able to successfully work from home. The steps we are taking are meant to protect our people and to help our world get through this crisis.
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