Only resilient leaders can navigate their people through this crisis
How can you remain resilient under continued pressure and adversity during the global crisis of COVID-19?
Resilience – the capacity to cope with stress and avoid catastrophe – is a critical skill in an increasingly stressful and demanding world where debilitating mental illness and burnout have become one of the leading threats to organizational achievement and productivity. Not to mention when we face such an unpredictable time in this global crisis due to coronavirus.
But how? It is easier to say than done. Especially when we are cut off from our normal habitual internal and external resources.
Leaders need to be strong not only for themselves and their families but for all the people they responsible for. So, they need more energy to achieve this than normally.
How and what can you do? Here are some hints and tips that can help you to remain resilient in this dreadful time:
External & Internal Calmness
Leaders must keep their calmness externally. It is partly about masking, pretending. No matter how scared you are you cannot afford to show it, you need to come across confident and calm while dealing with high ambiguity. But masking requires lot of energy. You have to be careful not to push it too far.
More importantly what you need to do is to remain calm internally. It is different for everyone. You might need positive mental affirmation (‘I embrace the chance to handle this situation well, and I move through all challenges with grace.’), you might need to meditate, do yoga regularly or do mindfulness exercises. I also like this simple breathing technique, which you can do 3 or 4 times a day: 4x in, 4x hold, 4x out, 4x hold.
Stress Coping Mechanism
You need to turn the volume up on your stress coping mechanism in crisis. Again, it differs for everyone what works well. But now it is essential for you to structure and do exercises every day for various reasons. If you are quarantined you need to do it otherwise sooner or later you won’t get physically tired and that will impact your sleeping habit and your mood as well.
Cardio is the best way to channel out negative energy, stress plus it generates positive hormones which helps you to see things more positively.
Laughter is a great way to release stress as well. Watch comedies, otherwise we go nuts in this hard time.
The above-mentioned calming techniques can also help you with your stress release.
What is important too and hard I know because I am struggling to stick to it but ‘Don’t watch/read news updates about the crisis 24/7!’, restrict yourself let’s say 2x a day as it has enormous impact on your productivity, your energy management and your mood.
Positive attitude and growth mindset
It might sound cliché and not quite appropriate to talk about but one of the most important survival and thriving techniques is reframing. You as a leader need to do it a lot not only for yourself but for the whole organisation. Now when we are facing many challenges, problems, difficulties you as a leader need to ask what is the opportunity in this, what is the tiniest potential in this, what learning we can take out of this, what tiny steps we can take to move forward even if we don’t know what forward means yet.
Short-term vs Long-term focus
When there is a crisis our focus becomes narrowed in order to survive. This is ok and this is normal. However, as a leader you have a role to provide perspectives for your people. And providing perspectives even in crisis is important. Because people get even more panicked if they feel they have no perspectives, no future, no hope. How can you do that, when you don’t know how far this crisis will escalate. Scenario planning is one of the tools you can use. Create scenarios, ‘what if’ plans. Create your and your organisation’s plan B, plan C, plan D etc. You will realise you have more options, more choices at hands than you thought so and also you will be more prepared, plus it helps you to control not the situation but the chaos.
Last but not least exercising compassion is important such a hard time. Helping others is not only a selfless, kind act but it is a bit selfish as well as it makes you feel good. So be compassionate, help others and you will feel better and it creates positive vibe and energy at a systemic level.
I know this is not a full comprehensive list, just some ideas to consider to remain resilient as a leader in the coming dreadful weeks and months.