Take Care, Stay Well, & Lead On!

Apr 29, 2020

By now, we’re all encountering that huge, unexpected, disruptive change called COVID-19. Reflect for a moment on the unimaginable amount of changes that have occurred in such an unbelievably short time. Overnight, airline companies were banned from international travel, and worldwide sports and entertainment events were canceled. Most churches have suspended services, and dine-in restaurants closed their doors.

In all our respective worlds, this phenomenon has likely had a sizable impact. Thank goodness we do not have to deal with issues of this magnitude every day. But one thing is certain—we cannot simply manage our way through a disruption like this. The circumstances require leadership.

Although this is an extraordinary moment in time, it calls for you to be the leader you have consistently been working to become. There is the expression that adversity does not build character; it reveals it. That is to say, your leadership and character are going to be on display—perhaps now more than ever. 

So, just a few reminders as you rise to the challenge:

  • Make sure your ears are working. It is easy to assume you know how people feel and what they need, especially in times of uncertainty when fear and anxiety get an unwelcomed boost. Listening will reaffirm that you truly understand where others are emotionally. Be present for them.
  • Proactively encourage open dialogue about new ways to do work. “Business as usual,” at least for the foreseeable future, is not a winning strategy for most. But some of the changes taking place now will likely become new norms and productive aspects of our lives in the long run.
  • Remain optimistic about the future. In our dumpster fire/car wreck-centered world, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the gloom and doom of life. Remember, there is nothing more energizing than a solid dose of hope.
  • Keep in mind that change done to us is much worse than change done by us. Right now, the airwaves are filled with a lot of conflicting information and unknowns, which create large amounts of uncertainty. Communicate frequently and as accurately as you can. And shift the conversations away from “can we overcome this” to “how can we overcome this.” That one-word difference will promote the involvement of others in helping to create better options and solutions. It will reinforce for your people that, despite it all, some things can still be done by them.

Steve Coats, Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, is managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For over 25 years, he has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and managers around the world. His work includes leadership development, team development, personal growth, and business strategy. You can reach Steve at [email protected].


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