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How to lead and communicate through crisis

Crisis and uncertainty is a leadership opportunity to get your team focused on the right thing,” says DoorDash VP of Communications and Policy Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean. “It’s more important to communicate during times of crisis — not less.”

  • Why it matters: The way you share essential communications and lead in uncertainty will decide if your team stays focused or starts to fray.

That means leaders have the power — and urgent responsibility — to help employees feel supported, informed, and empowered to ease anxiety and stay engaged. DoorDash does just that by following these five methods:

  1. Use crisis to focus people. Crisis and uncertainty present an opportunity for leaders to step up and unite employees on a common path forward. As Elizabeth puts it, it’s the chance to say “grab your oar and this is the direction I need everyone to row in.”

  2. Listen. Listen. Listen. The most important voices are the people trusting in you. Ask them what they need to know, what will motivate them, and what answers they are searching for —then give that to them.

  3. It’s OK to not have all the answers. Honesty not only builds trust, but it makes you seem more human. Share what you do know, what you’re working to discover, and when they will get your next update.

  4. Be transparent. “There’s enormous power in transparency,” Elizabeth says. Use that to build trust, be open, and communicate in a straightforward way.

  5. Don’t be something you’re not. Find your authentic voice as a leader — whether that’s through written messages or videos. Find what you do well, and use it to communicate effectively.

The bottom line: With fear of a looming recession, inflation creeping up, and so many other business challenges arising daily, how you communicate and lead amidst tough times will determine if your employees trust your direction or if they start to jump ship. 

Go deeper: See how smart communication can boost workplace productivity.