Dealing with a crisis – Focusing on Ourselves
The COVID-19 pandemic is here and it is not expected to go away soon. As leaders managing a crisis, we have a critical role to play – our team members will have anxieties and look to us for direction and assurances and what we do and say will have a huge effect on them. But before we focus on our team, we need to look at ourselves. Our effectiveness as leaders starts from taking care of ourselves first. Here are a few things we can do that are focused on ourselves as we navigate this global catastrophe:
- Stay grounded. While it is important to know how to stay safe and what is happening in our neighbourhood, it is also important to prevent the news cycle from taking over our lives. Limit your intake from social media and the TV on the crisis to one or two bulletins per day from trusted sources. This stepping away gives you time to take stock and fully understand the reality of the crisis.
- Remain positive. Learn to choose the mood you want to show up with. If you are feeling despondent, acknowledge your emotions, list out what are still good and true in your life and ask yourself what choices you have and which makes the most sense. Then act without delay – “be quick, but don’t hurry”, to use the words of John Madden, a US football coaching legend. Actions yield results but equally importantly, they give us a sense of agency. We will not feel powerless; instead we will be more positive and confident when dealing with others. A positive attitude also has health benefits: it boosts our immune system, helps reduce the effects of stress and increases our resilience.
- Stay fit. We are probably moving around less in a lock-down. Take frequent breaks from your laptop to do basic exercises. Helping clean the house is a great way to stretch and burn calories. Schedule time for exercise – listening to podcasts helps me wonderfully in this. Watch your food intake and if you do want to indulge, pick an occasion. Being healthy is essential to managing stress and making good decisions.
- Stay loose. Know how you are doing by asking your team and peers to give you feedback on your decisions. Let their responses and any new information that you receive allow course-correction – remember that in a crisis, your first response is never going to be your last response.
- Up-skill yourself. If you have the time, invest in learning something new, like a new language, a new technology, or something related to your client’s industry. Take advantage of the many sources of learning that are available online – some of them have even removed their paywalls as a response to the crisis.
About the Author:
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