What Defines Good Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 28, 2020 3 Minute Read

What Defines Good Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How do you lead in a crisis, especially when separated from your employees and colleagues?

It’s a question many have asked themselves in the past few weeks.

Whether it’s regularly speaking with team members, finding common ground in difficult circumstances, or simply telling someone you trust them, agile leaders are finding ways to support their teams in this challenging time.

We spoke with members of CBRE’s Canadian Leadership Team to get their reflections and advice.


Remote work can disrupt regular channels of communication and leave employees feeling lost.

“It is always better to over-communicate than leave questions unanswered,” says Heidi Rocheleau, a broker and the Senior Office Operations Manager for CBRE’s downtown Toronto office. “It is more important than ever that each of us be empathetic to each other.”

Rocheleau believes in doubling down on supportive conversations during this period.

“We are all in this together and need to support each other as best we can,” she says. “Together we can come out of this stronger.”

Trust in Your People

It can be difficult to trust your colleagues when you’re not seeing their work on a day-to-day basis.

But according to Avi Krispine, Managing Director of CBRE’s Quebec operations, it’s never been more important to have faith in your team.

“Leading virtual teams during difficult moments requires you to give up control and trust your people more than ever,” he says. “It’s all about providing them with the appropriate guidance and encouragement to support their development.”

His main piece of advice? Stay empathetic and accessible.

Find Common Ground

Whether it’s caring for family members, home-schooling children or just managing day-to-day stress, each of us is dealing with the challenges brought by COVID-19.

Greg Clark, Managing Director of CBRE’s Toronto West office, believes leaders should build solidarity from these shared circumstances.

“For me, leadership in difficult times is about being honest and compassionate,” he says. “It’s about sharing our personal experiences and talking through real solutions.”

Clark says that leaders should lend a hand where it’s needed and go above and beyond to support their team members.

“In unprecedented times, we are truly all in this together,” he says. “Everyone is affected, and we need the support of one another in order to succeed.”

Focus on What You Can Control

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when considering the scope of the current crisis.

That’s why it is important to stay calm and take things one step at a time, according to Jon Ramscar, Managing Director of CBRE’s downtown Toronto office.

“Listen, absorb and focus only on what you can control,” he says. “There is always a way through and that is the adventure.”

End on a Positive Note

Finally, strive to be a source of positivity for your colleagues. There are difficult days ahead but sharing a sense of purpose and strength will go a long way towards building team unity.

“Check in often with your team,” says Martha McIver, head of CBRE’s People department. “I have team meetings with time for specific personal accolades, as I sincerely appreciate how hard my team is working to support our business operations. I start with the difficult or challenging tasks and end with positive messages.”

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