We live in trying times, and as an executive coach I find that the question that keeps coming up in my work is this:
How can I provide strong leadership in the face of adversity?
I commend every individual who has the foresight to ask and reflect on this challenge, and offer the following tips.
It Starts With You
Take care of your own mental and physical health (some great ideas on restorative practices here).
Physically, that means keeping up your fluid intake, getting enough sleep, and eating well – there are still plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer, no matter what may be happening in the toilet paper aisle! Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and practice social distancing.
Stay active as much as you can as this will have tremendous benefits for both your physical and mental health. While you may not be able to take part in team sports or go to a yoga class, you can still go for a walk or jog, or get a workout by following an instructor on Youtube.
Right now the news is filled with doom and gloom so I recommend limiting your media consumption. Turn to reliable sources only, and try to avoid the hype. The more you listen / read / watch all this bad news, the more it will take a toll on you mentally.
I can’t stress this enough:
Focus on what you CAN control, and don’t waste time on things you cannot.
We may not be able to control the Coronavirus pandemic, but we CAN controls our conversations and the atmosphere in our home and workplace.
Communication at this time is so important. Talk to your staff, your peers, your family, your suppliers, your customers and clients. Draw on their expertise and experience, work with them to sort out solutions and interim arrangements to support health and wellbeing and stem the tide of COVID-19.
Remind yourself and others that things go in cycles, and look at ways that your team can come out even stronger at the end of this time of adversity. Reflect on what has helped during tough times in the past. We’ve all seen plenty of crises over the years, from drought and floods, to unstable political leadership and the GFC. What worked in the past? Is it something that could help now?
Change and Adapt
Leadership in the face of adversity requires us to act decisively and positively early. Do more than you think is necessary; be proactive.
One young couple I know was due to be married in just six weeks’ time. Under the current arrangements here in Australia prohibiting gatherings of over 100 people, the wedding may still have been permissible with 60 guests invited.
However the couple has taken decisive action and postponed the wedding until later in the year when hopefully the worst of the crisis has passed.
I applaud their actions, as by acting decisively and positively early, they have been able to fairly easily shift all arrangements to the later date. Perhaps more importantly, they have taken control of the situation, and saved themselves several weeks of wondering and worrying.
Care for Your Team
I’ve already touched on keeping the lines of communication open with your team. Part of that could be passing on this information, to help them to be strong and confident in the face of this global threat.
Inspiring and nurturing those we lead requires us to develop some understanding of their personalities, behaviours, likes and dislikes. This knowledge is extremely valuable to you now, so you can support each individual in the way that is most meaningful to them.
We don’t have to lie down and surrender.
Every day is bringing changes and challenges as COVID-19 continues to spread, but as leaders our role is to look for the opportunities and lead with strength and nurture those around us.
It might be a time of adversity, but choose to look it as a tool or a test, a way to develop as individuals and leaders, personally and professionally.
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