Leading Is Tough Right Now. But You’ve Got This.

The last few years have not been easy on leaders, to say the least. But according to leadership professor and former healthcare CEO Harry Kraemer, good leadership still looks a lot like it did pre-pandemic.

“The requirements to be a leader have always remained pretty constant,” says Kraemer. “It’s leading yourself, leading others, communicating like crazy, listening carefully, demonstrating you care.”

So instead of changing your style, what the current moment calls for “is really turning up the volume.”

Kraemer is a clinical professor of leadership at Kellogg and executive partner with Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners. Before coming to Kellogg, he was CEO of healthcare giant Baxter International.

In a recent webinar for The Insightful Leader Live, Kraemer shared how leaders across an organization can amp up their leadership skills to meet crises with grace.

Double Down on Self-Reflection

Before you can lead others through turbulent times, you need to first lead yourself—which of course requires understanding yourself.

This is pretty much always good advice. Kraemer has long advised leaders to set aside a few minutes each day to self-reflect on what they intended to do, what they actually did, and what they might have done differently—both at work and in other areas of their life. (You can read a full list of his favorite prompts for self-reflection here.)

Self-reflection is even more critical during a crisis, he explains. Even in easy times, we have a tendency to want to move quickly, lest all of our decisions and responsibilities start to pile up. In a crisis, this tendency gets much worse. But this confuses activity with productivity. It is far better to do less, but to be intentional and strategic about how those things are done—especially when time is tight and the stakes are high.

Kraemer also advises occasionally looking beyond yourself for this insight—a gut check, if you will, about whether your actions align with the things you say you care about. Specifically, he advises…

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