While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly isn’t over, it does feel as though we’ve come far enough through it to gain some perspective on what we’ve learned during this unusual and challenging period. Even when we reach the point where we can put our face masks in a drawer for good, some lessons that have emerged certainly will continue to be relevant for many years to come.
1. Have a Clear Why
One lesson is having a clear why and the importance of being very clear about why you do the work you do, and why it’s needed in the world. The pandemic truly clarified the importance of being certain about your why – your purpose. After all, that strong sense of purpose helped us all push through and learn new ways to communicate when we couldn’t see clients and colleagues face-to-face, and it’s what kept us going on long days during the pandemic when so many aspects of our work seemed so unsettled.
2. Develop a Set of Guiding Principles for Decision-Making
We all remember the early days of the COVID outbreak, when every business was in crisis mode and trying to make decisions about how to adjust. At Edward Jones, when we realized our leadership team needed to make a series of critical decisions, our first step was to establish our guiding principles for times of uncertainty.
Doing so made it clear what was most important to us – taking care of our clients, valuing the contributions of each of our colleagues, and so on. These principles became a litmus test for all our decisions and allowed us to move quickly. Every financial advisor’s practice, no matter the size, can benefit from this kind of clarity in a crisis.
3. Be Comfortable Leading Without a Playbook
During a crisis, you will rarely have the luxury of time. And in some cases, the information you have at hand will be incomplete, or will conflict with other information you received from other sources. Your clients and your team won’t be able to wait. During times like this, you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Making decisions in these conditions can be unsettling, but if you have your guiding principles in place, they will guide you – and the people around you – to help you get it right.
4. Communicate With Knowledge and Empathy
As you likely heard when talking to clients and colleagues in recent months, the pandemic caused many people to feel anxious or even frightened. As a financial advisor and a leader, you have to keep in mind the emotions your stakeholders may be feeling, and adjust your interactions with them accordingly. Be patient. Listen more closely to what people are telling you. That empathy will go a long way with your clients and with your colleagues.
5. Be Purpose-Driven in Everything You Do
Finally, and most importantly, be purpose-driven in everything you do. Work with like-minded people who share your sense of purpose and are fully in it with you. When you’re fully purpose-driven, you’re better equipped to deal with rapidly changing circumstances, because you have a clear focus. That purpose serves as your north star, guiding all of your actions, allowing you to be decisive and effective.