Last month I served as a speaker on an Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) – Chicago Chapter webcast entitled “Writing a global pandemic playbook – Crisis control: Effectively managing teams and protecting organizations in the era of COVID-19 cyber-attacks and insider threats.” During this webcast I shared my thoughts regarding my “lessons learned” during the COVID-19 pandemic of navigating through a crisis situation and leading a large team of lawyers and legal professionals during uncertain times while still delivering high-impact legal support to Microsoft’s world class sales teams in the US. All lawyers and in-house counsel have had to demonstrate leadership during the COVID-19 crisis – and the unfortunate reality is that all of us will face additional crisis situations both in our professional and personal lives. Here are my “10 Cs” for all lawyers to embrace during any crisis situations:

  • Calm: It’s important to try to remain as calm, cool and collected as your can during any crisis situation – although of course that is much easier said than done. Staying calm and steady will help enable you to think more clearly and logically in challenging times.
  • Confidence: Continue to exude confidence during difficult periods as your teammates and clients will be looking to you for leadership, direction and help. Demonstrating such confidence will also help others remain positive and hopeful that they will get through a crisis together and that there will be better days ahead.
  • Communicate: Leaders need to communicate early and often with their teammates and clients during crisis situations. Being “missing in action” or invisible during tough times is never helpful. Also be sure to overcommunicate when needed.
  • Clarity: When you do communicate, always be clear, transparent and authentic with your messaging. Also use “real” words instead of any “Corporate Speak” to help drive better clarity in your communications.
  • Collaborate: Crisis situations require everyone to effectively and quickly collaborate and share information. Look for opportunities to use leading and highly secure technology to help ignite collaboration with great speed.
  • Create: Helping to manage through and resolve a crisis may require lawyers to be creative problem solvers who can think “out of the box.” Also be sure to obtain diverse perspectives from others in order to help enable you to be innovative and creative.
  • Courage: During a crisis lawyers need to be bold, decisive and have the courage to make tough decisions.
  • Change: A crisis situation may require you and your teams to quickly adapt to a new reality and embrace change. While change is very hard, don’t fear it and become comfortable with change management.
  • Compassion: A crisis may unfortunately result in negative impacts upon others. Always be empathetic and compassionate in your decision-making process during a crisis.
  • Character: When navigating through a crisis, important principles such as ethics and integrity are non-negotiables. Lawyers involved in crisis situations need to always ensure that they are acting with the highest degree of character.

The next time you face a professional or personal crisis, please keep these “10 Cs” top of mind.