Pandemic Leadership: Connecting Virtually, Staying Flexible Yet Focused, Trusting Instinct

What did the past year teach you about leadership that you wish you’d known before?

Krystlyn Giedt
Half Moon Bay Coastside (CA) Chamber

I can do it my way and still be successful. Bye-bye corporate boxes. As a young Aspie lady with quirks, sometimes I’m diminished by others because they have a hard time taking someone like me seriously. But that’s not a me problem, it’s a them problem and I paid too much attention to them before.

The last year taught me that I didn’t get here by accident, I do good work, and I’m pretty kick-ass at my job…while having fun doing it. When I trust my gut and go for it, the results are usually great and our chamber reputation has grown positively from it!

Mark Creffield
Greater High Desert (CA) Chamber

I consider myself a solid communicator with our chamber members. However, during COVID-19, I felt greater confidence and reassurance in effectively communicating vital information to our chamber members while providing them with many resources necessary to assist them with their business needs.

There is very little leadership training or development that prepares us to handle a pandemic. As a leader in any tough business situation, I must continue to keep all forms of communication positive. I am fortunate to have been able to enhance this leadership skill, knowing we are all in this together.

John Tayer
Boulder (CO) Chamber

Simon Sinek says, “From order comes progress. From chaos comes innovation.”

I believe a key foundation for the Boulder Chamber’s success, when not responding to a crisis situation, is consistent focus and methodically planned impact. That’s what our business and community stakeholders generally value and my job is to manage to those expectations.

The pandemic forced me to flex a different leadership muscle. It was the capacity of our amazing staff team to quickly innovate in pursuit of opportunities to address crisis response and recovery needs, and my own adjustment to managing the organization through dynamic shifts in our operating environment that has positioned our organization for an even stronger future.

Mike Neal, CCE, CCD, HLM
Tulsa (OK) Regional Chamber

This past year reinforced something I already knew about leadership and taught me something new. The events of 2020 reinforced that leadership is all about connectivity.

To be an effective leader, you must build strong connections — both professional and personal — with your colleagues. They need to know you care about them as people as much as you care about their work.

As an extrovert, I’ve always preferred to build and maintain that connectivity face-to-face, in-person. But this past year demanded that I learn how to foster connectivity from afar, often through Zoom or other platforms.

Once I got comfortable with the technology, I came to appreciate the new possibilities for connecting with others, even when you are not side by side.

Terri Cole, CCE
Greater Albuquerque (NM) Chamber

Productivity can occur anywhere.

I was highly skeptical early in the pandemic about whether our organization could operate effectively with our employees — and me! — working from home each day. Interestingly, we not only continued to function at a high level, but in some cases, our planning, decision making, and execution proved to be even more efficient. Meetings and virtual events were well attended (no one had to drive to them). Our Leadership Albuquerque program was able to attract the very best speakers — from all over the country.

In today’s age, everything is mobile and both resiliency and flexibility are valued greatly by employees and employers alike. Let’s embrace that. Hire well, build trust with your employees, and with the assistance of technology, let’s create nimble and efficient organizations that work!