There are many facets to leadership, and understanding the balance of control has always been an important one – but even more so in highly uncertain times. The truth is, there is no management rulebook for what we’re living through right now. The situation with an unprecedented global pandemic and the resulting economic shocks is not something we’ve collectively experienced before, and with the guidelines and consensus changing every day, it can be hard to know how to step up and lead right now.
The Balance Of Control
The key to handling this extraordinary set of circumstances might lie in returning to an old principle of mind management – focusing on your spheres of influence. You don’t have a hope of controlling what is happening out in the macroenvironment, so choosing to look closely at the elements you can control, including your own response to crisis, and what you may have learned through executive coaching, offers a way forward.
A Positive Message
One hugely important function of a leader during times of crisis is to act as a beacon of hope and provide some positive thought leadership. This doesn’t mean shying away from the reality of what’s happening. But it does mean being able to hope for the best and use your communication skills to pass that message on to others. Confidence can be inspired as much by gestures and body language as words, so pay attention to the energy you are putting out at the moment.
Try Things Out
One thing that can happen when there’s a lot rapidly changing factors is that we can become mired in analysis paralysis – weighing up all the possible things we could do, instead of actually doing them. While throwing caution entirely to the wind is never a good idea, it’s also important to accept that there might never be a perfect moment or course of action. Taking your business through a pandemic requires you to be adaptable above all else, so you need the courage to try new things and accept that not all of them will work out. This can get harder to do in uncertain times, as our brains are stuck in fight or flight mode and telling us to retreat and wait for the storm to pass. Even simple things like learning some physiological stress management techniques, can help you to manage your response and think clearly when it’s most needed.
Develop Your Compassion
In times of crisis, it’s also important not to retreat too far into yourself when you need to lead others. Check your focus occasionally to make sure you’re looking out and connecting with people. Operating in extreme circumstances only works when we acknowledge that it is not business as usual – our employees are dealing with a huge amount of strain, additional caring responsibilities, getting used to being part of a remote team, and the emotional shock of what’s happening. Extend them the understanding that you should also extend to yourself. Things are not going to be perfect for a while, but as long as people are doing their best and have good intentions, give them some slack and try to understand if performance isn’t what it had been.