This blog post is about how to lead people through a crisis.
People worldwide probably ask themselves since 2020…what is happening here? What does this Coronavirus crisis lead to? How will it affect the economy, my career, our kids, education, our income, relationships, etc.? Will we run out of food, toilet paper, and other basic supplies?
We live in the unknown. And even people that think they have all the answers, don’t. As leaders, we are used to living in uncertainty. We always think about tomorrow and how we can accomplish all that we set out to. But in times like this, we need to step it up and help the people around us to deal with the unknown – even if we struggle ourselves.
We are getting emails from every institution, events are being cancelled, whole countries have gone into lockdown. And conversations are barely about anything else than Corona.
“Great leaders provide direction and hope in times of uncertainty.” (John Eades) Providing reliable facts and communicating that we confidently expect good things will help our people deal with this current situation.
We all have a choice. The basic emotion of what we are facing in situations like this is FEAR. It is caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
There is nothing wrong with fear. Fear can protect us from danger, pain, or harm. Feeling uneasy or worry about the future in a crisis like this is reasonable. Because different scenarios are possible.
Yet, our response to fear is what determines our well-being and that of the people around us.
What we have seen in the first few weeks of every lockdown is PANIC at its finest.
Panic is “a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behaviour, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals” (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/panic).
And “a sudden strong feeling of fear that prevents reasonable thought and action” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/panic).
As leaders, we have to lead the way. We do not have to know exactly what is going on but what we need to help people deal with their fear sensibly.
According to Gallup, followers “demand that leadership and institutions lead our nations and the world with compassion, stability, trust, and hope.” …which we can do by taking the next four steps with the people around us:
Instead of overreacting and panicking, talk about it. What are people’s fears and concerns? Help them to stay reasonable, yet do not shut them down. Things can get big in our head and once we put words to it and hear ourselves say our thoughts in front of others we gain new perspectives. Do not be judgmental. Just listen and use EMPATHY (see article).
How does it feel to live in the unknown? Too often we try to escape our emotions by either numbing them or going into panic mode. Just sit and feel seems so weak, yet it requires courage. Name it and claim it, and then…
Once we have voiced our fears and felt our emotions, we need to put our thoughts related to our emotions onto the ‘serenity-shelf’. We need to accept that there are some things we cannot change, therefore, we need to let them go or park them until we can change them. Then, we need to move on.
What can we change right now? Actually, a lot: Our attitudes, our relationships, our lifestyle. As leaders, we need to focus on what we can change and inspire people to do so. We have great opportunities to make a positive impact in times like these. We can support each other, care for each other, and make informed decisions.
Let’s give our best, shake off all negativity and overwhelm, look out for each other and trust that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope this article helps you lead people through a crisis more effectively.
Happy Tuesday! Take care and stay safe.