I’m dealing with a crisis here” the receptionist bluntly told me this morning. As I processed her response and facial expression, wondering why I was copping it (while simply standing there waiting to get her attention to book in to see a GP), her look of tiredness and frustration spoke volumes.
On the flip side, straight afterwards at Woolworths I saw a staff member handing out chocolate to her work mate who responded with a grin – it was lovely to see the interaction between them.
People are doing their best, even though on the surface, their responses would suggest otherwise.
Our world is changing day by day at the moment as this CONVID-19 pandemic creates chaos and an uncertain future that could last for months.
As the ancient Stoics have taught us, it is only our response to events like this that determines their effect on our world.
In the face of uncertainty, the only thing we control is ourselves (and how we treat each other)
At the front of our minds is wanting to know that we – and our loved ones – are okay. While social distancing and self-isolation are the key safety strategies, there’s something else we must not lose sight of that we all need: connection.
- People want to feel that they belong
- People want to feel valued and know they matter
These psychological needs are heightened as more people work remotely from home.
No one would disagree that this is technology’s opportunity to shine in ways we’ve never seen before allowing business as usual to continue (whatever that looks like in this situation), for example, virtual meetings and video conferencing.
While technology connects us during these times of forced isolation and distancing, we know that the more we rely on technology, the less connected we feel. The World Health Organisation has forecast that depression, loneliness and anxiety will the biggest global healthcare burden by 2030¹. Our love of devices is contributing to people feeling disconnected.
So how can we lead ‘calm and connected’ in this much uncertainty?
1. Create stability – You can’t overcommunicate right now. Talk about what the next day or few days look like. Talk about what is changing and what isn’t in bite sized pieces that people can digest.
Structure helps people not feel overwhelmed.
Be transparent, share what you know and help your team fill in the gaps with what you don’t know. Team huddles enable teams to create a shared understanding of what is going on, what is expected, and how people can support each other.
2. Care comes first – Take the time to genuinely connect and ‘be’ with your team. Even if you’re connecting remotely, take the time to check in and find out what’s ‘on top’ for people before you talk about tasks and work.
You can’t connect with others when you’re in your head
The way you listen, show understanding and compassion tells others you genuinely care. Asking what you can do to help also creates connection.
3. Be courageous – You’re leading in a situation you’ve never dealt with before. Asking for help, giving the idea or feedback, being vulnerable, whatever it is where you step outside your comfort zone, have a voice, and choose to be heard. Go for it! People are waiting for your leadership in ways you might not realise.
4. Look after yourself – Giving to others also needs to be balanced with what you give yourself. Your sleep, healthy diet and support networks can all help ensure you have the resilience you need to get through these tough times.
Bringing it all together
Your intentional leadership that puts people and relationships first will help you guide others through the coming weeks. If you need any help navigating this current situation – please don’t hesitate in reaching out. .