Key Elements For Leaders During Challenging Times

Leaders have dealt with disruptive and unpredictable times for the past few years. First came the pandemic, then the Great Resignation, which led to all-time high labor shortages. There will always be forces that test our leadership mettle. How we respond is what separates great leaders from others.

Most leaders have had to revamp policies to meet employee demands for friendlier and more flexible workplaces. The challenging part amid all this chaos is that leaders must embrace uncertainty, which is not natural or easy to do while dealing with personal challenges such as stress and burnout. 

As a leader, you must find ways to sustain people and performance in uncertain times. Read on to discover what they are and how to use them to steer your company to success in these uncertain times. 

How To Lead During Difficult Times

Leading during challenging times requires a combination of essential leadership skills with the following key elements:

Make Sure You’re At Your Best

One of your leadership responsibilities is to set the culture of the organization. Employees will pay attention to your decisions and how you respond to adversity. You must be at your best to encourage others to be at their best.

Being at your best means caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health. This requires you to be self-aware to seek the help you need and, in turn, sustain your team.

Some simple ways to take care of yourself include one or a combination of the following:

  • Doing mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Meditating
  • Exercise

Another way to ensure you’re at your best is by staying in the loop. Since leaders are high in a company’s hierarchy, they risk not knowing key information as employees are trained to bring solutions, not problems.

To avoid this, stay connected to key information sources and ask difficult questions when seeking solutions to avoid being surprised during crises. 

Check In On Your Team

Your team members need support when going through tough times. While some employees can sail through hard times easily, others are deeply affected and take a long time to recover. This may affect their performance and response to everyday situations. Knowing what they are feeling or experiencing will help you coach them through the tough times.

Check on your team regularly via video or in-person meetings and ask them if they face any challenges. Employees feel valued when you ask about their welfare.

Open Communication With Your Clients

Your clients navigate the same turbulent waters as you do during challenging times. These include the potential impact of layoffs and how this will affect deliverability, increased workload due to layoffs, and personal job security.

During these uncertainties, it’s easy to retreat from communication with clients. But uncertain times are the times to lean in, to connect more. Become a listener and a supporter of all your clients.

Consistently bring clients innovative, strategic ideas on marketing effectively during economic downturns. This is what leading looks like, and will make you a valuable asset to them.

Make The Tough Decisions

Making tough decisions is part of being a leader during challenging times like economic downturns. If you want to steer your organization in the right direction, do not be afraid to make them. It’s quite common to want to delay decisions due to:

  • Discomfort or hope that circumstances might improve.
  • Over-analyzing and getting stuck in a state of ‘paralysis by analysis.’
  • Feeling that you need more information before they can make a decision.

But let’s be honest. These are just excuses to avoid making tough calls. When you delay a decision, you inadvertently decide to maintain the status quo or, worse, to confront an even larger problem due to your indecision. Why escalate today’s issues into tomorrow’s crises?

Be Confident

Leading during challenging times can be frightening. However, it’s essential to maintain your composure.

While you can admit when you’re unsure of something, any fear or apprehension you display about the future can significantly impact your team’s mindset, escalating their worries.

Fear diminishes morale, making it challenging for your team to carry out their duties effectively. Therefore, don’t let your team see it even when you deal with fear during chaos.

That being said, you don’t have to battle your fears alone. Feel free to share your concerns with trusted family members, friends, peers, or a coach. Consider forming a “kitchen cabinet” or an informal board of advisors. These individuals can serve as an excellent source of advice and a sounding board, helping you navigate your fear and obtain valuable counsel.


Leading during challenging times requires experience, courage and planning. If you want to be truly prepared for difficult times in the future, have a strategic plan to deal with them.

Our experts at The Hoyt Organization can provide the guidance you need to create a plan that sets your business up for success during times of difficulty. We can help you create a plan that includes crisis communications and digital and social media strategies to help you combat tough times. Connect with us today to get started.