The business world was shocked recently by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a veteran institution of the high-tech world that essentially collapsed overnight. Given that so many companies owe their existence to their relationships with their banks, the question then becomes, “could this happen to us next?” When one bank falls, how long until the next one? We have seen that happen before.
How does this impact you as a leader? Even if your department has nothing to do with your company’s finances directly, it still owes its existence to the company’s financial stability. Average employees who also have nothing to do with the banking side of your company’s operations are still going to ask that question, “could this happen to us next?”
The ramifications of this are huge. Frightened employees will be less engaged, less focused. They might also be less trusting of you as their leader, especially if they suspect that you are equipped with a golden parachute that they were never offered. In times of trouble, divisions appear, even if that trouble is just a rumor, or a story happening to someone else.
This is Your Time To Shine
With crisis comes opportunity – for leaders to show why they are great at what they do. Most people can lead during good times, but the best leaders are there to guide their people when times turn bad or scary.
The SVB crisis – or any crisis, really – presents an opportunity for you to demonstrate your leadership ability. Now is the time for you to make yourself available to explain what needs to be explained, and most importantly to actively listen to the fears your people are likely feeling. This is about being proactive: striking at this issue before anyone even asks. It’s about having the courage to address the “elephant in the room” – initiating tough conversations because most people keep their fears and insecurities hidden.
The strength of leadership in this age – an age of impromptu firings of real and threatened mass layoffs from other giants in the tech sector, of supply chain issues impacting the economy as an aftershock of the pandemic, and now the resurgence of bank failures – means that the soft skills that were identified as central to the future-of-work, such as emotional intelligence, active listening, and individualized attention to employees – these things must be brought out now and deployed as weapons against panic.
This is your leadership brand. Leading people into and through the unknown when they need it the most. Are you ready? I’d love to have your perspectives on this topic.