Alright, here we are. COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, prompting governments and organizations to take drastic steps to mitigate the spread and protect their people.
During times like these, we can easily identify exceptional leaders in how they show up and bring a sense of calm, stability and confidence to everyone around them.
Today, I want to share seven tips on how you can mindfully self-manage and lead during this crisis. Some might be applicable to your role and current set-up, while others may not. Take what resonates, leave the rest.
Master Your Emotional Contagion
As leaders we have a profound influence on the emotional and mental states of those around us. In times like these, we have to recognize that fear spreads faster than a virus. Look at the irrational hoarding of toilet paper as a case in point. This kind of reactive, irrational and fearful brain activity can be tempered with 10 minutes of daily meditation. I highly recommend downloading an app like Calm or Headspace and start today. The world needs your calm, focused, resilient leadership.
Communicate Clearly and Compassionately
Your teams, clients and stakeholders might need to hear directly from you about the preparation you have in place. Please communicate intentionally, using three main filters of honesty, clarity and empathy about how you and your organization are handling the crisis. This will establish much-needed trust, confidence and set expectations during a time of intense change and uncertainty. This is even more crucial if you and your team is transitioning to remote work.
Make Intentional Decisions
When things are changing from moment to moment and from day to day, it becomes crucial for leaders to make decisive, intentional and deliberate choices. The Navy SEALs have a saying:
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
While this sounds counter-intuitive, truth is, taking the time to solicit feedback from experts and front-loading your decisions with deliberation, slowness and consistency can make a huge difference. The result is clean, quick and effective execution.
The suddenness of the epidemic and the quick transition to remote work has thrown everyone in a frenzy. Your teams and clients might be working from home with kids and a spouse, struggling with space and Internet bandwidth. Show grace and understanding for yourself and others as everyone finds a rhythm and structure that works.
Embrace Beginner’s Mind
This is an excellent time to employ the Zen buddhist concept of ‘Beginner’s Mind’. It refers to having a sense of wonder, curiosity and openness when approaching a subject or problem. With so much unknown and uncertain about where things can go, a great reframe from fear-based thinking is to pivot to openness and curiosity. Encourage your team to embrace this perspective shift as well.
Let Your Innovative/Creative Juices Flow
Some of the world’s most path-breaking ideas and discoveries have come from quiet time of doing nothing or being. The theory of gravity was discovered by Newton when we was social-distancing during the plague. COVID-19 is forcing us to step away from the tightly-packed schedule to one where we can access our intuitive, receptive, creative side. Allow this time to channel your best thinking.
Take Care of Yourself
Another side-effect of the stress and anxiety during this time is a compromised immune system. While I hope you’re following all the guidelines provided by the CDC and other public health experts, please also get adequate sleep and add immune-boosting ingredients to your meals (eg. ginger, turmeric, citrus fruits), Zinc is an excellent supplement to add as well.
I hope these tips and resources are helpful. How’re you navigating these uncertain times? What tips and resources would you add to this list?