Having served with the rest of our leadership team during the Ebola outbreak, I want to share with you what we learned about what your team needs from you right now.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m living inside a Sci-if flick. This is not what any of us expected for the beginning of a new decade, and it’s understandable to feel disoriented with so much fear and noise and reactive thinking coming at you at warp speed.
Your people need you to be the one who creates a frame around the ‘new reality’ so they can focus and move forward.
If you lead people, here’s what they need from you right now…
They need you to be calm.
Your people look to you to set the tone. Calm doesn’t mean falsely downplaying the reality of the situation, or not sharing what you know, but it does mean giving people someone they can watch who models how to handle this chaotic time.
Your team needs to feel like they can trust you to lead them in uncertain times – when so much is out of control – they need you to stand and support them.
Help them take a breath…to shift from being reactive to thoughtful.
Next, they need you to recognize their humanity.
And to understand where their focus is right now…it’s for themselves, their families, their friends, their future. At a time when we are pulling back from physical contact – trying to stay at least 6’ away from others – we need our connections to each other even more.
They need to know you see them. You still have expectations about how they’re showing up and doing their work, but they must feel like you understand all that is going on in the background as well.
You need to recognize and talk candidly about this tension right now – give them something to be connected to that is positive – when so much is unknown and changing at a rapid fire pace.
They need you to give them hope.
A path forward, even when what we don’t know, is more than what we do. They need you to create context for the experience – and showcase how you’ll move through it together.
When so much of our media is blasting out fear, you need to give your people a direction to rally around that is forward focused and creates a positive future you are collectively moving towards.
I get it, you may feel like you’re reeling too, and you have more questions than you have answers.
Be human first, and a leader second. Those are the leaders we’ll follow anywhere…
“If you think you’re leading & no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” Afghan Proverb
Oh, and thank you for stepping up and holding the space to create hope, and connection in this time of uncertainty.
It’s no easy thing.