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My phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I was getting a deluge of notifications and the news kept giving mixed reports. March 2020 was not just a frenzy, it was absolute chaos. But I don’t need to remind you of that fact, it’s hard not to remember those early days of the pandemic.
Back then, no one seemed to know what was going on. There are no “founder’s guidelines” for what to do when an unprecedented pandemic hits. In those moments, it’s just you and your choices.
Colleagues scrambled to host Zoom meetings and restructure their organizations due to the new economic uncertainty. And we all had to address the biggest question of all: What is going to happen?
In his illuminating story for Harvard Business Review, contributors David J. Snowden and Mary E Boone note that “working in unfamiliar settings can help leaders and experts approach decision making more creatively.”
As the CEO of my company, Jotform, there were no easy answers to give, but I knew it was up to me to continue to be a stable harbor for my team. We would have to work together to develop new coping mechanisms. And it was also up to me to figure out a variety of decisions. This meant that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and come to a totally new way of leading.
Why leaders should choose the right framework for decision making
When environments are unfamiliar and challenging, we shouldn’t rely on our old ways of doing things. Instead, we must learn to identify the signs of when a change in leadership is needed.
For example, I know of many business colleagues who were paralyzed when the pandemic hit. It took them a long time to change the way they did their decisions – which means that their teams were also stuck in this limbo.
That’s the thing about being a leader: people look to you for reassurance and guidance. We have to be ultra clear about our communication and our decisions.
Researchers Snowden and Boone identified several frameworks for decision making. However, I would like to share some of the strategies that worked for me during the turmoil of 2020 and have continued to help me navigate the following years until now.
1. Learn to make quick decisions
Entrepreneur taxpayer Sanchita Dash writes that “one of the most important traits of being an entrepreneur is being able to make quick decisions that, in most cases, decide the fate of your company.” She wrote this in 2018 when this practice wasn’t as essential as it is today.
A quick approach not only ensures that you don’t get stuck, but also ensures that your employees feel a greater sense of psychological safety, which will affect your organization’s morale and productivity in the long run.
There are many articles on why we should slow down to do the smart thing. decisions during a crisis, but I think leaders also need to develop agility. Of course, this doesn’t mean going into stressful overdrive thinking you have to quickly solve every problem that arises. You will only get sick and burn.
In general, I am a big advocate of slow and steady growth as a company – it is one of the main pillars of my company. But when it comes to decision-making, I agree with Polish Ventures founder Lalit Upadhyay. “As an entrepreneur, you need to make decisions quickly, as the active time frame for a current decision will be very short,” she said. tells Dash. “The result of the decision that one has made will show if it was a quality decision or not.”
He further states that “the entrepreneurial path is about making the right decisions with confidence and positivity, firmly at the right time, one after the other.”
2. During a crisis, avoid micromanaging at all costs.
Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of removing strict deadlines of your organization. Why? Because people who feel the pressure to produce won’t do their best work. In the case of my form building company, I came up with a framework for leading that is about avoiding any kind of micromanagement. It has no place here.
This was especially vital to cut during 2020 when the world came to a standstill. Suddenly, every employee was forced to juggle their work and home responsibilities like never before, and flexibility it wasn’t just a good choice, it was a must. We couldn’t demand that our teams finish a project by the same means that they had done in days gone by.
Earlier this year, Ivan Popov explained why leaders need to stop micromanaging their teams and learn to let go. “Employees around the world work in a constantly changing and evolving work environment,” he wrote for Entrepreneur. “While leaders and managers should focus on ways to improve their team’s overall work experience, they shouldn’t forget to update their leadership strategies either.”
3. Don’t try to find all the right answers, just act
This is particularly tricky for perfectionists who believe they can burn the candle at both ends by figuring out the correct solution to each problem.
As someone who fights against this trend, I am here to tell you that the adage is correct when it says “done is better than perfect”.
Snowden and Boone note that the pandemic demands decisive action, but that good leadership also “requires openness to change at the individual level.”
They add: “Truly savvy leaders will know not only how to identify the context in which they are working at any given moment, but also how to change their behavior and decisions to match that context.”
I humbly attribute my ability to handle this crisis with a measure of confidence and grace to my agility as a leader.