Navigating Your Way Through a Crisis Situation such as COVID-19 (As a Leader)

When the going gets tough, the tough (resilient) get going – Joseph Kennedy

While this is a nice sentiment expressed by Jo Kennedy, father of the US president John, it really only states the beginning of a leader’s journey. That is, when things go pear shaped, as they have with gone with COVID-19 for example. However, using the three A’s involved in effective transformation we can turn adversity into opportunity. This makes us as successful in navigating the crisis as we are capable of being, given the circumstances.

The three A’s refer to Awareness, Acceptance and Action. As a wise person once mused, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (5 P’s principle). Preparation is covered by gaining Awareness and Acceptance and then, and only then, we spring into Action.

There are multiple steps to gain awareness of what we need to do as leaders. Firstly; don’t treat it as a crisis with the need for major change. Treat it as a situation that requires transformation of the way we need to do things. It is important to remember that what is different now may offer different opportunities now and into the future.

So, with my psychologist’s hat of some three and a half decades firmly on, I have some advice. Fundamentally, we need to be aware of our own attitudes and belief system before we unleash ourselves on others. Often, it is not what we do but how we do it that has the major impact on those we want to help navigate the ‘tough times’.

So what is the first step to success?

The first major piece of Leadership advice I can offer you at this unusual time is to see and communicate the circumstances as challenging rather than as a major problem or crisis. As Epictetus the wise philosopher knew, “Life is not about happenings, but what we tell ourselves about those happenings”. It is vitally important that as Leaders we consider the impact of the way we go about ourselves. This includes the way we deliver messages to others in or organisation. We need to encourage staff to show initiative, develop a resilient approach and do the very best they can do not be freaked out and feel debilitated by anxiety and overloaded concern.

In other words, ensure you become an ‘energy injector’ not an ‘energy vampire’ when you interact with others. The ideal team and organisational cultures work on a principle of continuous transformation as they grow and develop. These cultures tend to do far better in terms of sustainable outcomes and success than organisations that work on a ‘boom and bust’ principle. This generally requires major change, re-engineering or restructuring cycles.

Step Two

The second piece of advice is to focus your time and energy on strategies, techniques and processes. That includes creating a setting for organisational members to get the tasks done effectively. This requires interacting with each other in humanistic, encouraging and affiliative ways that enhance human transactions and interactions. Technology has some great solutions to enable us to ‘team’ even when isolated in different areas.

Friday afternoon happy hours can still be organised via video conferencing. This allows team members to share how they are feeling, what is happening and have some fun whilst isolated. Regular communication at these times is critical as noted in every piece of ‘dealing with Covid-19’ that we read. Even though this may seem a ‘common sense’’ approach it is taking it into ‘common practice’ that is critically important.

Step Three

The third piece of advice is ensuring you set the context. This applies to different ways of working, different goals or objectives or transformations you may be considering. To benefit the business, generally before you implement these strategies and process changes you need to explain the context. Otherwise, team members are left guessing about what the hell is going on and what it all may mean into the future.

Step Four

The fourth and final piece of advice is to ensure you look after yourself as you navigate the weeks and months ahead.

This needs to include:

  • Peers or mentors to debrief with and share information and support for what is happening – what seems to be working well and what are the hurdles or derailers being faced and how might these be navigated and turned into solutions
  • Share decision making and information sharing with others and encourage that to be spread throughout the organisation. It is important to empower others in this way but to also share the decision making and challenge solving as you navigate your way forward
  • Maintain energy and vitality by exercising regularly, eating well, alcohol in moderation and keeping up your own social interactions via video conferencing or similar

That’s all for this week! Thanks for tuning in to PsychUp! and please do not hesitate to contact Veretis if you would like any further information. We also offer various programs for emerging and experienced Leaders. Please get in touch if you would like more information on team, culture and performance enhancement programs.

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