Home Instead CEO shares how to strike the right ‘tone’

Communicating during a pandemic is not just about what you say, but how you say it.

Leadership, that much celebrated but often elusive quality, is getting a real workout these days.

Facing our greatest health threat in a century, we naturally look to our leaders—political, civic and religious—for reassurance and direction. Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer tells us that when it comes to leadership, our own employers rank at or near the top of the list.

In a crisis, leaders show up in many ways: as truthtellers, whether the news is good or bad; as experts, offering perspective and understanding; and as chief comforters, providing empathy and inspiration.

At the heart of all this is communication. Never before has the relationship between leadership and comms been more clearly defined.

I recently spoke with Jeff Huber, CEO of Home Instead Senior Care, about his company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, his own approach to the crisis and how he’s using communication tools and channels to maintain contact with employees working at home and franchise owners around the planet.

Home Instead’s business is about dealing with the most vulnerable among us, with its caregivers providing older adults with everything from personal care to hospice. In this excerpt from our interview, Jeff talks about how he first learned about the pandemic in January, while attending the World Economic Forum, and upon returning home, focused on striking the right tone in his communications.

“Calm is contagious,” he told me. “That sort of became our mantra as an organization. We’re going to spread calm.”

Jim Ylisela is the co-founder of Ragan Consulting Group

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