The dynamics of global business have changed due to the current global crisis. Many organizations were challenged with how to move forward in business operations and communicate effectively. Because of the current cultural shift in the demands and values of employees, consumers, families, and governments, the way people interact and communicate with each other require a new introspective approach to adjust and conform to Covid-19 guidelines and additional factors. The global pandemic’s situation revealed the vulnerability of organizational communication and how to manage it during the forced shutdown of non-essential and essential businesses. The abrupt change in living standards, business relationships, and economic stability caught everyone off guard and created a panic situation that affected many nations’ social, cultural, and economic wellness.
The lack of transparency, misinformation, and ineffective communication related to the Covid-19 problem complicated matters for major corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, and hindered their ability to develop a new plan of action quickly and efficiently. The difficulty and handling of the pandemic exposed several communication barriers. The closing down of non-essential businesses, new social distancing measures, and business operations restrictions created a physical communication barrier that interfered with cohesion. Since the beginning of the pandemic, government officials, scientists, health experts, and business professionals differed and debated the seriousness of Covid-19; therefore, causing perception problems for the receiver of any messages related to the situation. The emotional communication barrier for many relates to the lack of trust in leadership ability, fear of unknown circumstances, and suspicion of decision-making that affected everyone.
The Covid-19 experience taught everyone a lesson and demonstrated the need for effective communication and crisis intervention. Organizations can no longer afford to miss developing a crisis communication plan because the effects of not preparing for a negative situation can change the dynamics of organizational wellness and disrupt the supply chain of products, services, and information. Every business could experience a financial, personal, organizational, technological, and natural crisis, so it is imperative that organizational leadership improves strategic leadership communication and implements a specific crisis program that benefits all internal and external stakeholders. The power of the type of language used – oral or written communication makes all the difference for the organization, employees, consumers, and the community.
How leadership functions during a crisis determine their ability to influence others and maintain credibility to ensure a competitive advantage. Most adverse situations occur in three stages; pre-crisis, event crisis, and post-crisis that places a unique challenge for the organization and its leadership. The first step in handling the situation involves creating a team to manage the crisis, conducting a crisis risk assessment, documenting all organizational activities during the initial exposure, creating a new strategic leadership communication plan, and practicing transparency with everyone to maintain credibility. Leadership must remain diligent in implementing the new strategic leadership and communication plan by engaging in proper decision-making, reestablish organizational image, and to remind and keep followers connected to the organization’s core vision and values. The most important factor for leadership is to learn from the experience and foster resilience.
Leadership can help remove any communication barriers by redeveloping the relationship of trust between the leader and follower and change, improve and affirm corporate vision, mission, and values. The organization must promote and encourage the two-way flow of information at every level between manager and employee, between peers, and use transparency to keep everyone informed. The use of discernment and discretion helps determine what type of communication channel to use to ensure that the message maintains the most significant impact and offers the right leadership value. The new crisis plan should include a designated person to act as the spokesperson for all key messages, a notification, and a monitoring system for stakeholders to help the organizations adjust leadership and communication strategy as needed, and most importantly, to have clear business objectives. The communication plan clarifies the relationship between the organization and its followers, what channel to use to relay the message, outlines the activities and materials needed to implement the plan, and identifies the target audience.
The future of how a business performs and operates in its target industry reflects on how decisively small, medium, and large corporations embrace leadership and communication change. Shifting the focus for strategic leadership and communication to crisis mode prepares leaders and organizations to effectively handle abrupt global social, political, economic, legal, technological, and environmental adversities. The concept of using a specific leadership style and communication system without a crisis focus to run business operations no longer applies to current standards. Nations, global government entities, international and domestic businesses all experienced the shift in cultural expectation and experience due to the Covid-19 effect. The sports, travel, food, restaurant, entertainment, and financial industries, educational institutions, and many other non-essential businesses suffered the consequences of the international crisis.
Organizational leaders are now able to take the lead and set the example for other businesses, national leaders, consumers, and employees to demonstrate the importance of crisis management. By changing and improving the relationship with all internal and external stakeholders, any communication barriers that once challenged cohesive efforts may be eliminated. Developing a crisis management plan that includes strategic leadership and communication requires long-term planning, implementation, and activity. The role of emotional intelligence during the present pandemic and future adverse situations is a crucial competence needed by all leadership to communicate effectively and engage in proper decision-making.
Once all business industries, government institutions, and organizational leaders receive and accept changes to leadership and communication focus towards crisis intervention as a priority, all stakeholders involved will benefit from social, cultural, economic, technological, and political improvements. The physical, emotional, and perception communication barriers will disappear because the basic human needs are satisfied – physiological, emotional, safety and stability, relationship, and truth, and understanding. The objective and goal of conforming to the global environment change by adjusting leadership and communication strategy are to help the entire global group experience some form of normalcy. The primary objective should no longer focus on profit structure, but what can be done to benefit all humanity and how effective communication and crisis management bring value to the organization and all stakeholders.