The current situation that we are all in is challenging. Our worlds were turned upside down and life will never be the same as it was before. In these times of uncertainty and change, leaders are faced with a tough decision on how they want to show up – both for themselves and for their teams.
Leadership Starts from Within
On one hand, showing up for yourself really matters. It is critical in times of change, especially with the intensity of the current COVID-19 situation. Leaders must pay attention to their own needs and have a higher level of self-awareness to know what exactly it is that they need for themselves so they can show up effectively for everyone else. This requires deep self-awareness and tapping into our thoughts, feelings and actions. This means leaders must regularly ask the following questions:
How am I doing? How am I REALLY doing? (sometimes using a 1 – 10 scale can be very useful to really answer to this question)
What is it that is impacting this answer?
What it is that I need to do for myself to be OK?
What kind of leader do I want to be right now?
What is the first step that I am willing to take to make this happen?
As leaders, only when we are able to really tap into our own needs and that place of higher awareness will we be able to truly serve and care for the team around us. (You know, the old airplane oxygen mask analogy – you can’t help others if you can’t breathe.)
Leading by Example
As leaders, the more self-aware we are, the more we can ensure that we are showing up exactly how we want to, especially during times of struggle and difficulty. This is not the end of the story though. As leaders, we are tasked with not only being self-aware, but we are tasked with being socially-aware – meaning we need to not only understand what is deep within us and what we need for ourselves, but we also need to understand what our team needs emotionally and physically too. This is the basic definition of emotional intelligence and great leaders are able to have a balanced understanding of both self and others to be effective.
During times of change and uncertainty, some people need additional self-care and down time – while others thrive in crisis and shift it into high gear and action mode. Some need to talk it out, and some need to create a new semblance of normalcy to move forward. Some need to simply know that it’s OK to not be OK.
As a leader, it is important to tap into that intuition and empathy to understand what is best for the team and the environment around you which can be done by:
Hosting “coffee chats” to give those in need of talking it out the platform to do so
Extending 1:1’s to discuss priorities and balance
Over-communicating the company’s support, actions and expectations
Embracing a humanistic and vulnerable approach to your leadership style allowing others to see what is working (or not working) for you
Creating an environment of open discussion and trust
Building “team care” into weekly activities
Leadership is a Choice
Everyone is a leader regardless of title or tenure, age or gender, and as a leader, you have the choice to lead every day. During challenging times, it can be very easy to shut down, feel stuck or lost, and to focus on coping for ourselves.
It is your choice what kind of leader you want to be and how you choose to navigate these difficult times. You have the choice to self-soothe or to focus entirely on others; you have the choice to over-produce or stay in a swirl of stress…but more than that, you have the choice to rise up to empower the team around you, to comfort them and establish a new normal, and to find motivation and energy to move forward.
You have choice in everything that you do, so what do you choose?