Apr 1
How to lead with presence in crisis

Leading with Presence in Difficult Times

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We know that current events will have long-lasting impacts and that pivoting to address these realities is not an option. As executives and owners, you probably feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders which is creating fear and anxiety.

In an HBR article, Ron Carucci reported that 38% percent of executives say they didn’t expect the loneliness and isolation that accompanied their jobs and 54 % said they felt they were being held accountable for problems outside their control. That is much higher in today’s complex environment.

Lonely executive in boardroom
Being at the top can be very lonely.

The importance of being present has never been more important than now. It’s difficult in this new world we are experiencing, there is so much distraction and it is tempting to become consumed with stats and news. We need to find a way to block out the noise and focus on what we can do, not what we can’t. Determine what difference we can make now to protect our future.

As leaders this is exaggerated, we are under the microscope as everyone is looking for us to exude confidence, poise and calm during a crisis. Our words, tone, presence and actions are under the microscope 7/24.  People are sensitive to each syllable we utter. While it is typically lonely at the top on the best days, in the new world it has become just a bit more solitary.

Shifting from a victim to a victor mindset and helping our teams do the same will be crucial. This shift varies by extremes for all of us. If you are in a region where you see the dead being transported day after day, this shift is not a simple matter – it is extremely challenging. Others are sheltered from the direct line of fire. In either case, we must strive to find a means to manage fear and anxiety for ourselves and those who depend on us. Finding a solution mindset may be the difference. What do you need to do, and who do you need to be in the next 5 min, 1 hr, 1 day – there is always something we can do to be a bit more grounded. For today, we may not achieve certainty, but we can create a sense of feeling safety, security and structure.

There are simple things we can do now to enhance outcomes such as establish a sense of structure, which we grossly underestimate the value of. This is especially true when we are working from home perhaps with kids in the next room.

Keep in mind, social distance does not mean emotional distance. Exercise your creativity and perhaps a bit of vulnerability. Engage in virtual groups, virtual office cocktail hours, etc. Have lots of team meetings where you can demonstrate warmth (more than a typical day). Great leaders are making time for a bit of chit chat before diving into the difficult matter and finding a way to wrap things up with a positive thought. As you lead people now be sure to leave them feeling hope for the future and encouragement for today.

Maybe most important is self-care. Our wellbeing and emotional resilience are essential to our leadership and those we serve. Check-in and reframe your anxiety-producing thoughts in a way that better reflects reality. Ex: Reframe “The ones I love will get critically ill and maybe even die” with “The vast majority of people will not fall ill and if they do most of them will recover.”

A few key issues we are helping clients deal with are:

  • Determining how to best support remote teams – both personally and professionally
  • Working through very difficult decisions such as layoffs, reduced hours and other compensation issues
  • Navigating a shifting environment, evaporating revenues and plans that are now irrelevant
  • Figuring out how to balance family, team and business – especially with kids at home
  • Fear of not being able to provide the things that those who depend on us need
  • Living in tight quarters with your family with little external socialization

If you feel a confidential sounding board may help you with any of the above challenges or others not mentioned here, feel free to book a time to talk in my calendar. I am happy to do this at no charge.

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I am interested to hear your top strategies in leading effectively in today’s world. Leave your comments below, it may just be the solution someone is looking for.










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