Leadership requires tremendous ability and insight. But the one family of traits that moves you from good to great in regards to effective leadership consists of compassion, sincerity, and care. Caring leadership emerges out of considerate behavior for yourself, your team, and your organization overall. It promotes a harmonious and efficient workplace and personal life.
Throughout your life’s journey, uncertainty is the #1 factor that you can be sure to encounter. With recent events in the world, you may have come to the shocking realization that your trusted model, process, or system might prove unfit for these days and times. The fact of the matter is that we don’t know or control the future, but we can influence it. For this reason, it’s not enough to simply lead through a crisis, but we must also lead with care. We’ve identified 3 target areas to help pinpoint and promote how we can lead effectively with compassion and authenticity.
We’ve all been on the airplane and heard the flight attendant’s instructions for how to proceed when there’s an emergency. In between letting us know where the lavatory and exits are located, the flight attendant’s offer the safety precaution advice that sounds something like,
“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”
The principle here is that you have to focus on yourself if you’re going to be of any true benefit to anyone else. As an overachiever, this can feel counterintuitive. But it’s the best way to ensure that you’re showing up as your best self in these trying times. Start by identifying the rhythms - the mental, physical, and spiritual routines - and make sure you’re finding ways to honor those in this new day-to-day. Are you still reading? Are you still listening to podcasts? Are you still working out? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious disease, is working 19-hour days, but still managing to find time to run 3.5 miles each day. This is the investment he’s making in his body to ensure that physical discipline is consistent and the other areas of his life benefit. How can you leverage this time to work on the rhythms and build disciplines in your life that will enhance your ability to lead?
The phrase of the year so far is ‘social distancing’. And while it’s absolutely the right and appropriate action to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others outside of your home in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it can have some significant impact on our emotional health. We must be intentional and minimize the emotional distance of social distancing. Now is the time to find ways to leverage technology to stay connected with those closest through text, calls, FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. Maybe it’s time to begin handwriting letters again? We’re hearing heartwarming stories of households that are setting up iPads at dinner tables so that extended families can continue to eat together. Bridging the gaps by whatever safe and healthy ways available is a must.
In addition, we want to be mindful of our natural blind spots. We should be making sure that we’re not sacrificing the emotional connection of those closest to us for work needs and responsibilities. It’s an easy tendency to use this time to focus on plugging holes in our work life as this situation is a public health crisis that’s become an economic crisis. But it’s critical that we don’t do this at the expense of our familial or interpersonal relationships. It’s important to use this time to be cognizant of our emotions. Am I anxious? Am I fearful? Am I projecting that to others in a harmful way? We’re experiencing a trauma believe it or not and we’d do ourselves well to remember that we’re all rookies to a pandemic. Unless we’re 100 years old or so, this is our first time facing a global outbreak of a pandemic disease. Be intentional with one another. When talking with people ask them how they’re doing today to emphasize empathy with it’s a changing state, sometimes by the hour. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, it’s vital to maintain a healthy emotional connection during this time. We’re in this together.
Now is an ideal time to refocus our goals. If you’re like us, you likely started this year with a lot of objectives on the 2020 list that you wanted to achieve from a personal and organizational standpoint. However, with recent developments, there’s power in reassessing the worthiness of some of your goals in this new reality. Perhaps it’s time to streamline your goals and let go of those that aren’t as relevant based on where you are currently. What could you stop doing? Where can you let go? What is still a priority? Stay focused on the critical items that you and your team are going to need to get through the immediate. Give yourself permission to stop thinking long-term. It’s ok to focus on the here and now. Plan for the next 90 days, but think of the next 30 days.
In this time of refocusing, you can find additional motivation by thinking of others. This can take a lot of forms, but maybe you and your family purpose to support a local restaurant that took a bad hit when it had to close its dining service. Maybe there’s a “nonessential” service worker like a barber or stylist that would appreciate a message of encouragement and a tip. Perhaps you can’t afford a financial gift, but you can spotlight a business on your social media or write a Yelp or Google recommendation on their behalf. Don’t think that because you’re not in a position to help on a grand scale that it would not be immensely helpful. People and businesses are struggling and they’re grateful for the support and attention at this time. As Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”
As the year continues to unfold and the marketplace evolves, your ability to lead with care will become even more of a necessity and your team will be grateful for it.