Leaders must be present for those they lead – physically, mentally and emotionally. But, how can we be truly present for those we lead given all the restrictions during this COVID-19 Pandemic?
Speakers and leadership coaches are inundating leaders with tons of leadership advice during this time. I don’t believe that we can digest all there is to read and continue to effectively do our jobs. We still need to hone our leadership skills in spite of the crisis we are in, and what better time to focus on our crisis leadership skills?
To get you started and to summarize the very best points I have seen in the past three weeks, I offer you 3 simple ways to be a better leader (and follower) during this time. Yes, being physically present is difficult right now. We must focus on being mentally and emotionally present for those we lead because that is what they need the most. Use these three principles:
- Lead with Heart. Even if you feel pretty stable, secure and in control, many people you interact with are very anxious. Everybody has their moments of doubt and concern. Do not be dismissive of their feelings. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and join them in their concerns. Don’t say, “I can see that you are concerned about the pandemic, BUT. . .” Saying “but” minimizes concern. Instead say, “This is a tough situation AND I am concerned along with you. Thank you for bringing this up. What do you think we should do?” “And” shows that you have heard and embraced their concerns.
- Over Communicate. Get out in front of your people using all means possible. Call them, write them, email them and, yes, use video applications. Yes, that means doing video conferences and video calls, even if you are not perfect or comfortable in front of the camera! Be vulnerable, be real, be yourself and most of all, be present and communicate as best as you can. Tell your employees what you know and what you don’t yet know. Commit to keeping them informed on the stuff you don’t know when you do know. Be as visible as possible and stick to the mandated restrictions in your area and at your workplace.
- Focus On What You Can Do. Don’t focus on what you cannot control. It is so easy for us to be Monday morning critics of decisions other leaders make. We have the luxury to be critics because we don’t have the responsibility of making the decisions. If you are a follower – and we are all followers in some way – be grateful that you don’t have the responsibility of making certain decisions. Your circle of interest is always larger than your circle of influence, so concentrate on what you can influence. Support your leaders, and respectfully give them your advice when needed. Be sure to disagree with them if necessary, but do it privately. Then, go and execute your duties publicly and enthusiastically.
In addition, here are four of the best leadership sources I follow to formulate my thoughts, along with an article or video link from each author: [All offer free resources!]
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