A friend recently told me about his great experience at an IKEA store. Obviously you cannot go inside and shop there now with the restrictions due to the Corona pandemic. However, you can still order online and pick up your products. When my friend did so, apparently he was greeted at the entrance of the IKEA parking lot by a smiling employee, asking for his order number, politely explaining he should park in one of the spots marked with a number. My friend did so and was approached by another friendly employee, who asked for the order number again, then went away. My friend waited at the numbered parking space, separated by about 2 free spots from the next numbered space, where another client waited. Then yet another IKEA-labeled person rolled along with my friend’s assembled purchase pieces on a pallet. After everything was put in the car, the employee jokingly said: “oh, don’t worry about the cart, I will bring it back and disinfect it, so you don’t have to.”
My friend was blown away.
None of these people had worked like that before, ever. Some may have worked in the now closed kitchen section, some in customer support & returns, or as cashiers. Yet all of them were confident, friendly and of great service, undeterred by their circumstances. They also seemed to work in perfect connection, despite their situation being new. As if they were committed to the same purpose. IKEA’s mission statement is “create a better everyday life for the many people”, and they seem to strive for exactly that even during current Corona times.
If you ask me, this is the sure sign of one thing: great leadership.
The best thing you can provide your team or employees with is confidence despite uncertainty. If you have confidence you will recover from it, if you have confidence in the mitigation measures being taken during this crisis, show it to your colleagues and employees! And if you are worried and need help or if you made mistakes - be honest about it. This is what fuels connection. If your business is affected in a way that you cannot operate normally anymore, remind yourself of your mission statement. How can it be interpreted differently, with the current situation? Remember the purpose you once committed to - how can you ignite it now?
Manager, employee or freelancer - all of our leadership skills are in demand right now. So put on your super-emotional-courageous-(wo)-man cape, and let’s fly!