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Leadership Styles and Toilet Paper

Female holding toilet paper rolls

One of the most amusing aspects of the Covid-19 shutdown has been the consistent scarcity of toilet paper. In the 50+ years I’ve been alive, I can’t ever remember the shelves in the paper aisle at the grocery store standing bare week after week for months, and the dairy section having limited stock on a regular basis. The outcry from the pandemic certainly spanned the spectrum of emotional responses, and leadership styles quickly became apparent as well.

In Fast Company’s article “What the toilet paper shortage can teach us about 5 leadership styles,” Kimberley Brown shares what two CEOs learned from the coronavirus challenges.  Below are five questions asked by Larry Dorie (CEO and cofounder of RHUB Communications) and Ben Ives (CEO with RapidVisa) which are sure indicators of one’s leadership style:

  1. Are you a Hoarder or a Giver? Hoarders respond with fear and Givers respond from a place of security. There are stories all over the world of people coming together to meet needs simply because it was the right thing to do, rather than selfishly keeping their resources to themselves. When communities share, and leaders set the example by giving, everyone benefits.
  2.  Do you have good management skills? During a crisis, the “ugly” within people or companies may come out. During those times, it’s essential for a leader to not waste time finding blame and instead focus on addressing and solving problems. Once those challenges are more under control, you can then review what happened and deal with the how’s and why’s of their occurrence in the first place.
  3.  Are you an early bird or late riser?  Early morning lines of people waiting for grocery stores to open their doors have been common since March 2020. The “early bird” did indeed get the worm (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc.), but there is something to be said for those that rose late rather than worrying about things they couldn’t control.  Both types of leadership are valid, and a good leader will know which one to use in each situation.
  4.  Do you panic or stay calm and in control? The mark of a good leader is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to take a deep breath, think through your options, and reach out to other people you trust for advice. The last thing your team or company needs is for their leader to be barking orders from a place of panic because that will only increase levels of anxiety across the organization.
  5.  Do you look for alternative solutions? Everyone has a “go to” item or place for most things they purchase. During the shelter-in-place orders, many of those places shut down or maintained limited supplies which forced people to look for alternative options. Innovative thinking became essential to fill in the gaps for services and products which used to be easily obtained.

(Credit: fastcompany.com)

Leading in a crisis is a true indicator of one’s style and strengths. We are passionate about small businesses and thankful for the opportunity to work with so many businesses across the country. We have developed the free Business Catalyst Masterclass Program as a way to give back to leaders in the small business community, and are excited about this new way to serve.

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