“Crises refine life. In them you discover what you are.” – Allan K. Chalmers
This is an unprecedented economic and health crisis, and things are much different now. Getting to a new “comfort level” will take some time. How this recovery is manifested is yet to be seen, and most of us are playing it by ear. As with most things in life, what we are feeling and even fearing now, will eventually change. Before it changes however, there will be many different situations that will call upon every tool, tactic, tip and trick we can muster. This is a crisis, and in crises, some tried and true emotional survival tools can be of help to you, your families, and your teams. Here are a few.
Be available to your teams. Sometimes just being around, just being visible, is enough. It gives someone the sense that they are not alone, and if trouble arises, help is nearby. In some circumstances, it’s a bit like being a lifeguard. Most of the time we are just watching, but we need to always be ready to jump in if the need arises.
Being flexible and adaptable are core behaviors that have guided people through tragedy. We now know that circumstances can change at the drop of a hat, and not just for others, but for ourselves as well. If our relationships are a priority, as they should be, then changes can be adapted to and grown through. Being present is not counseling, but it does help people deal with unforeseen circumstances. You can help others through example, guidance and presence.
Leadership Listening Skills
Mark Twain said, “We have two ears and one mouth because it’s twice as hard to listen.” Listening may be the most important part of your job right now. It may also be the most difficult. You can easily fall into the trap of someone that hears but doesn‘t listen. The skill that needs to be developed can be called “Listening with the third ear.” This is where you listen for what is not being said; you listen for the feelings behind the words. This is where attention and intention, both good and bad, are obvious.
Many of us have complained in the past that we have had to be a therapist to our team members. Right now, the ability to listen and give understanding will help you and your people deal with the crisis at hand and the times ahead.
Pressure is a part of life. How we choose to react to it is really the challenge. Step one is to see it, step two is to acknowledge it, and step three is to do more than just talk about it. Doing this releases the steam from the pressure cooker, and prevents an explosion; which usually causes a mess. Integrating this, and the other tools into your behaviors will keep you and your people emotionally healthy during these difficult days.
Pressure can be positive. It helps people feel alive and productive, and it makes life interesting. In fact, many of us thrive on pressure. On the other hand, it’s stress that needs to be avoided, and stress happens when there is either too much or too little pressure in our lives. When you’re in a situation like this, too much pressure can bring you to your knees. It can affect your health, your family, and your company.article continues after advertisement
Your Internal Pressure Regulator
Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the pressure and stress of a tragedy, and the desire to do the right thing becomes overwhelming. It’s the strongest of us that drive ourselves to distraction. Watch yourself, and listen to those closest to you. If you are advised that your tolerance level or work performance is suffering, take a serious look at your internal pressure regulator. You may be overdue for a break when you are short-tempered, depressed, or tired. We all have internal regulators that go off in different ways, but if you are behaving in a manner that is not your norm or if you stop caring, it could be a warning signal from your internal pressure regulator.
Leadership and Pressure
We are always dealing with some pressure. In good times, we seem to anticipate problems. In a time like this, we have not been able to conceive the crisis at hand. During the crisis, you will wear many hats — general, soldier and therapist. Learning to let your people vent and training yourself to respond, not react, are important skills to master. Good leaders explain the challenge, and at the same time, they share their vision for the future. They also look for the upside, while continually demonstrating their resolve. Since some crises can make or break an individual (not to mention a company or a country), it’s important to find ways to release some of the pressure and maintain your role.
Rely On Others
Nobody has all the answers. That’s why it’s important to get coaching and support from peers and friends. If you don’t have the answers within, you need to seek them out. By seeking out the answers, you strengthen your own abilities. There are many seasoned counselors and groups that can offer support. You might even consider bringing a therapist into your company for a day. It could be of great help to your people and if nothing else it is a powerful way of showing you care. Sometimes, that’s all it takes, just showing in some way that you care.
Most crises are not nearly as bad as the Covid-19 Pandemic we are currently facing. To survive now, your commitment has to be strong. Team members will look to their leader to guide them through the challenges ahead.
While this crisis is vastly more significant than most we have faced; people who practice these skills usually get through the challenge more quickly and easily than those who don’t. They are the best practices of people who have survived some of the most difficult times on the planet. There are very few problems that others haven’t experienced. Learn from them, be prepared and persist.