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COVID-19: Leaders Carry A Heavy Burden

How your organization can promote their resilience, well-being & performance

We’re relying on leaders more than ever

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted how we work and will undoubtedly have lasting implications on business. In its wake, leaders have been forced to re-evaluate, re-prioritize, and chart a new course of action. And despite the intensity of the crisis, strong leaders realize that with challenge, comes opportunity. Now more than ever, organizations are relying on their leaders to navigate global disruption, buoy employees and ultimately, propel innovation. It’s no small feat.

Unprecedented reliance on leadership further emphasizes the need for proactive, innovative and effective behavioral health support designed to equip them for what clearly is a marathon, not a sprint.

You can begin to design your support program by addressing the following integral needs.

Cultivate Wellbeing

Executives are human, like everyone else. They aren’t immune to burnout or behavioral health issues. To remain emotionally healthy and effective, it’s essential that they manage themselves, first and foremost. Naturally, a top priority in times of crisis is sustaining performance. However, that can come at a cost if not done reasonably. Therefore, it’s essential that people in these critical and challenging roles are provided with learning and tools to cultivate the personal wellbeing required to help them remain prepared, focused and optimized over the long haul.

Sharpen Mental Performance

Mental performance coaching is a valuable tool in helping leaders master mindset, sharpen focus, optimize perspective and maintain healthy lifestyle habits under great pressure. In the face of complex and rapidly evolving circumstances, mental performance coaches can be crucial assets to help leaders recognize what’s within their control, and where their efforts will have the greatest impact —maximizing return on energy invested.

Embrace a Sense of Stewardship

There’s much talk these days about taking care of oneself, but often a lot of guilt in doing so when others need care. Leaders need to be reminded that taking care of themselves is precisely what empowers them to take care of others well—in both their personal and professional lives. This sense of stewardship is important to embrace, as is the notion that they don’t have to do it all alone; just ask for help. Clinical consultants can be of tremendous support in times of crisis and need. For example, a leader might find it challenging to simultaneously balance intense work demands while navigating the medical treatment of a loved one. Having a clinically trained expert available to offer guidance, case consultation, ongoing emotional support and facilitate linkage to top-tier resources can provide an immense relief.

Promote Authenticity

Authenticity in leadership is never more important than during times of uncertainty, when people crave familiarity. Feedback and executive coaching can sharpen leaders’ interpersonal aptitude by improving their emotional intelligence and enhancing empathic communication skills—in turn, fostering cohesion and creating a real sense of community. Human connections are critical in times like these, and the benefits of empathy are compounding.  

Have a Crisis Response Plan

Ensuring the safety of the employees and operations is foundational to leadership peace of mind and efficacy. Having a solid crisis response plan ensures that leaders have the up-to-date information and best practice protocols they need to help employees feel safe, engaged and informed, while minimizing the impact to reputation, brand, culture and operations. Crisis experts can help you develop plans based in best practices to protect core assets and provide reliability during this highly volatile time.

Foster Community

Feeling connected contributes to higher self-esteem, empathy, trust and cooperation, as well as lower rates of anxiety and depression. Therefore, it’s important for leaders create community, both for themselves and for their people. Quarantine and social isolation make this more challenging, of course. But it’s time to get creative. For example, roundtables can be a great way for leaders to connect and share expertise. Microlearning experiences can also help to bring people together in new ways while providing fresh perspectives, tools and inspiration. The possibilities are endless.

The COVID-19 crisis is a defining moment in which leaders face unprecedented and unrelenting pressure. Having the proper support in place can help to promote leadership resilience, wellbeing and performance when your organization needs it most to thrive.

Dr. Vergolias is Medical Director of R3 Continuum (R3c), a global leader in protecting and cultivating workplace wellbeing in a complex world. He oversees and leads R3c’s Clinical Risk, Threat of Violence and Workplace Violence programs, and has directly assessed or managed over 1,000 cases related to threat of violence or self-harm, sexual assault, stalking, and communicated threats. He is also founder and President of TelePsych Supports, a telemental health company providing crisis risk consultation, resilience and diversion planning, and involuntary commitment evaluations for hospitals and emergency departments. He brings over 20 years of experience as a Forensic Psychologist and Certified Threat Manager to bear to help leaders, organizations, employees and communities heal, optimize and ultimately thrive before, during and after disruption. You can reach him at [email protected].

Amanda is Clinical Director of Executive Optimization at R3 Continuum (R3c), a global leader in protecting and cultivating workplace wellbeing in a complex world.  She oversees and leads R3c’s Executive Optimization program, which supports organizations in building innovative solutions for promoting personal thriving and propelling performance in its top executives, generating organizational competitive advantage. She brings nearly 15 years’ experience in the field of workplace behavioral health; having consulted with Fortune 500 companies on issues related to disruptive event management and behavioral health literacy and awareness in the workplace. Amanda is known as an adept strategic partner to her clients; understanding their unique cultural needs, and collaborating to implement behavioral health solutions that integrate resilience and optimize executives. You can reach her at [email protected]

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