How to remain a leader during a deadly crisis?

It is communication that makes a great difference.

No person in a position of leadership in the workplace welcomes crisis but it has been something entirely inescapable during the pandemic. It is Lisa Pierce (vice-president, Canada & USA sales for Air Canada) that knows the most.

Everything both from work to home turned upside down in the blink of an eye during early pandemic days in 2020,” says Lisa Pierce

With three decades’ experience in the airline industry, she says, she learnt pragmatic skills to ward off the impacts of crisis by consistently exchanging information with partners, team members, and internal departments.

For example, the reopening of airlines after initially, government-imposed ban, was a multi-layered situation, it urgently required communication with partners, border security officials, ground and aircrews etc., to ensure planes were back in the air.

Communication has always been and is a fundamental tool to tackle challenges but particularly such complicated situations, “she says, “it causes certainty in uncertain times.”

Being perseverant at dark times

According to Sarah Van Lange, vice-president of communication, content marketing and social media for Cineplex, the never-ending sequence of diverse information from multiple sources at the beginning of Pandemic was overwhelming.

I was quite unfamiliar with these unexpected happenings,” Ms. Van Lange says.

Like Ms. Pierce, Ms. Van Lange says, maintaining the internal flow of information with employees was essential at Cineplex. “Our CEO began to send us weekly emails to the staff,” she says. Like their internal and communicators, Cineplex communication and social media team forged unity, increasing each others confidence as they continuously kept information flowing.

At the Cineplex reopening in July 2020, Ms. Van Lange remembers, there was a never-ending line of questions from journalists across Canada and she remembers doing 15 + interviews a day. It was challenging at the time because there was no regulation at the national and provincial level and based on local guidelines, health and safety protocols were in practice.

“It was a highly difficult time and I was entirely focused on the detail,” She says, “Even one negative headline or misinformation could pave the way to skepticism about our entire theatre circuit.”

Ms. Van Lange says it was the best decision of our company that it empowered the general managers by giving them training and facilities to respond to the media queries.

“We were facing a lot of troubles with misinformation— but manager besides in providing accurate information made us feel happy,”

Gained confidence in the voices of experts.

Ms. Van Lange and Ms. Pierce say experts of the respective matters were the main source of information, particularly, in the information to the consumer concerning Covid-19. Dr Jim Chung, Air Canada’s chief medical officer of health, continued to provide Covid related information to consumers through onboard videos and television interviews. Before starting the Cineplex show, some time was specified to include an information video from physician Dr Issac Bogoch detailing infection diseases.

Ivana Noble

Ivana joined Rated Viral in 2017. She is a full-time writer with a background in digital marketing. In her spare time, she spends time with her large family and kids.

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