Lessons Learned from a Year of Crisis Leadership with Shawn Johal
Published On: March 25, 20214.1 min read
To mark the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic’s outbreak, we called upon Shawn Johal, Canada-based coach, entrepreneur, and author, to share his lessons for leaders one year on.
Shawn shared lessons from owning two very different businesses: a home LED lighting installation company and a globally recognized Scaling Up coaching practice. While the former was well-positioned to take advantage of a home remodeling boom, the coaching practice had to adapt to the changing needs of clients. His dual perspective informs Shawns leadership best practices, applicable regardless of whether the past year was a boom or bust for your business.
“Most of us think that we’re communicating at all times. You speak to business leaders and ask them, ‘Does your team know what’s happening? Do they understand the vision of your business?’ ‘Oh yeah Shawn, don’t worry about it everybody knows, everybody understands. We know exactly what we’re doing” and then I go speak to the team members and they always tell me the same thing. ‘I have no idea what’s going on whatsoever. I don’t know what this business is trying to accomplish. I’m not even sure what our leaders are trying to do.’ So I’m always emphasizing that you need to have incredible communication throughout the entire business. It’s scientifically proven that an employee needs to hear the same thing seven times! Yes you’ve heard me correctly, seven times before they understand what you’re saying is actually meaningful and important. So, you have to be constantly repeating your message.”
“I saw so many leaders this year that were super uncomfortable with the situation, not wanting to tell their teams exactly what was happening out of the fear of the unknown not wanting people to panic. But it does the reverse psychological effect when you don’t tell your people enough of what’s going on and you don’t have that transparency. It’ll actually have a reverse effect. Most team leaders that I spoke to, the companies with the least amount of transparency are the ones that were the most frustrated. They kept telling me, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, I’m not being told, I’m not being made aware, I’m in the dark, I’m alone at home doing my virtual work and I’m absolutely not part of the process or part of the solution’. It’s very very important that you have a very clear communication rhythm with your teams within your businesses so that everyone knows exactly what’s happening.”
“The number one leadership trait that needed to be shown in 2020 during the COVID crisis, in my humble opinion, was empathy. Those leaders who were able to show empathy and really show their team members that they cared for what was happening to them, happening to their families, were the ones that really shone through and seemed to be able to keep that bond between them and their teammates. To me, that’s something that’s been very much overlooked: having that empathy in everything that you do, that you live by your values. Empathy has been such an important emotional trait, and I think moving forward having that empathy and having that desire to make sure that your people are doing well is going to be very important. It’s pretty much expected from employees at this point. They expect to be heard, they expect to be listened to, and you have to make an effort. It’s not always easy as a business leader. It’s much easier to get caught up in your fires and you’re putting out urgent fires in your day-to-day operations. But really taking the time to be out there and carefully listening to your team members, that is something that we definitely don’t spend quite enough time doing that we need to spend more time on.”
About Shawn Johal
Shawn Johal co-founded DALS Lighting, an LED lighting business, in 2009. He implemented the Scaling Up Growth System and led the company to 3X its revenues well into the 8-figures. Shawn went on to found Elevation, a business growth coaching & consulting firm, working with entrepreneurs & their teams to help accelerate their growth – while helping them find personal balance and happiness.
Former President of EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Montreal, Shawn remains an active member & mentor to numerous young entrepreneurs, helping them improve as business leaders and as individuals. A Finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Shawn also sits on the Board of Directors for “Champions for Life,” a non-profit foundation helping children develop their physical literacy.
Possessing a passion for endurance sports & rigorous goal-setting, Shawn is obsessed with high-performance, the pursuit of happiness & the power of mindset to fuel a successful life – and he’s committed to bringing his message to the world.
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