What Leadership Means During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Being a true leader during the Coronavirus outbreak requires dipping into one’s basket of experience and finding several essential and key ingredients with which to work. For me, those ingredients were: Safety, proven data, essential leadership members, resiliency, and prayer.

Woman with a face mask washing her hands.
Photo by Anna Shvets

Safety – At the onset of the virus, I sent a letter to our team asking them to wash their hands more frequently, work from home if they were able, and spend extra time disinfecting everything. As time passed, the correspondences were stronger and more specific. Some involved hanging notices on the doors of both ReStores and every build site ensuring our donors, shoppers, and volunteers that we wanted them to be safe. Safety first.

Person holding laboratory flastk
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum

Proven Data – Following the directives of the CDC, Habitat International, Habitat Michigan, and Governor Whitmer, Macomb Habitat implemented new procedures. Construction and Deconstruction were essentially shutdown to protect volunteers, partner families, and staff. Stores were cleaned and re-cleaned every hour to ensure that no surface was virus laden. Meetings were cancelled or moved to an online format. Data first.

Woman on rock formation holding a flag.
Photo by Engin Akyurt

Essential Leadership Members – Throughout the last few weeks, whenever I had a question or needed a different perspective, I could always turn to the Executive Committee members of the Board of Directors or to my own internal leadership team. These folks offered everything from cans of food and cash for emergency baskets to promises of help if things become dire. Every non-profit needs leadership teams like the ones I have. Since I am not an island, their caring acts of kindness and demonstrations of giving, matters. Leadership first.

Charlie's Angels holding power tools.
“Nothing will take us down!”

Resiliency – So “the chips are down,” and ReStore revenue has decreased due to fewer customers. Some layoffs are imminent and special donors are being approached. The “we can survive this” mentality is in place and nothing is going to keep us from delivering the services we provide to our community and partner families. We have Superwoman as our COO, Captain Marvel in the Development Department, St. Francis of Assisi in the Volunteer Department, and Wonder Woman as our Board Chair. I’m not sure who I would be with these real-life Super Heroes, but all share a common theme: Nothing will take us down! Resiliency first.

Gold Crucifix
Photo by Italo Melo
Prayer – In the end, when the control is out of our hands and forces beyond our imagination control us, it is good to just sit and pray. Really pray. God, our loving Father, please just help all of us to help others as we make our way forward. We ask that you take us into the palm of your hand and gently calm us as the virus makes its way out of our lives. Help us to learn from this experience. Teach us to be better prepared for the next unexpected moment and allow us to easily notice those around us who need a helping hand. Prayer first.
Not every leader will use the same tools to ensure safety and to meet given goals. These are my five and they work for me! Safety, proven data, essential leadership members, resiliency, and prayer.
~Helen Hicks