Times of crisis – whether spurred by natural disaster, the COVID-19 disease or something else - require strong leadership. You can make the difference between your boutique’s surviving/thriving or closing its doors. While there is not one right script for how to handle an unprecedented situation such as the one we find ourselves in, there are essential characteristics that must be exhibited to effectively lead. Specifically great leaders:

Remain calm. Others – your staff and brides - are looking up to you and will feed off your energy. Everything from your tone of voice to the verbiage you use to your facial expressions and body language will be scrutinized and used to draw conclusions about how hopeful or panicked they should be. This will, in turn, create a ripple effect that can impact others’ productivity, purchasing desire, health and attitude.

Act decisively. Unfortunately, you likely won’t have the luxury of collecting a ton of information and analyzing it thoroughly – decisions must be made quickly and are often imperfect. A great leader uses both real-time data and his/her instinct to choose a path. Accept that there’s always going to be someone upset with your decision but ultimately this is your business and you have to do what you believe is right. Remember: making an imperfect decision is often better than making no decision at all.

Communicate clearly, honestly and regularly. Relaying pertinent information as quickly as possible to customers and staff calms nerves and ups the likelihood of a positive outcome. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer to some questions.

Understand that peoples’ reactions vary. During stressful times you’ll likely witness everything from extreme anxiety to casual joking. It’s important to accept that one approach is not “wrong” and the other “right” but that people have different ways with coping with fear and uncertainty. Even if you don’t understand a response, it helps to remember that these reaction(s) are simply what is helping that person get through that moment. Meet them where they’re at and show grace.