It’s no surprise that times have changed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In its wake, the world at large was catapulted into a level of panic, stress and adjusting that many of us have not known in our lifetime. Overnight “normal” wasn’t quite so normal anymore. In fact, normal by all accounts was no longer considered to be safe. Our routines were interrupted and the autopilot switch had been abruptly flipped into the off position. Whether your opinion is good, bad or indifferent, by late March we had all become panicked, present and what appeared to be powerless.
Without taking away from the heartfelt seriousness of what’s going on, let’s be frank - leadership is about change and mindful leadership is about understanding the predictable, all around internal and external resistance within yourself to it. Getting up close and honest with how you feel about change will allow for a deeper opportunity to create practical coping mechanisms to deal with it gracefully.
Here are 3 ways you may be unknowingly making the “new normal” harder than it needs to be and practical ways to cope by changing your approach.
1. Needing things to be the same way they have always been. Unfortunately and fortunately they are not and pausing to recognize and fully owning this can win 90% of the battle. There is a “new normal” emerging and almost everything seems a bit different. Bemoaning the present situation only digs you deeper into a sense of powerlessness and prevents you from making the most of it.
What’s the fix: Recognize change is meant to bring in something new. First, stop and observe what new way of “being” and “doing” is trying to establish itself in your life presently. Second, ask yourself how are you now being asked to show up with your work team, with your family and most of all with yourself. Lastly, be honest about where you are struggling to make the transition and start by confronting the reason(s) why the change is hard. A lot can be revealed about your biases and fears, which may be holding you back from embracing new opportunities.
2. Feeling a loss of control. Change interrupts independence and can make people feel they have lost control over themselves and their situation. As a leader this can bring up concerns about competency. Surprises are not always fun and people do not take kindly to decisions being imposed upon them.
What’s the fix: Too much control is not a good thing and this may be a much needed break in business as usual for you and those you lead. Crisis offers an opportunity to invite all hands on deck and to cultivate an atmosphere of collaboration. People are more likely to jump on board when they are a part of the planning. This gives your team an opportunity to take ownership of their direction forward as a cohesive team. Bring them in and get them involved.
3. Allowing your mind to overindulge in uncertainty. It’s true, too much uncertainty is a recipe for disaster when you are moving your team through disruptive times. If people don’t feel a general sense of safety they will reject your lead. Past resentments will arise and old wounds may reopen. Let’s just face it, sometimes the threat is real and change can be incredibly painful.
What’s the fix: Now is the time to return to your core values and get back to basics. Why is it that you do what you do? What is it that you stand for? Why do you/organization exist? As a leader, it is impossible to make everyone feel comfortable with the change, but by demonstrating personal conviction, it will help to provide confidence to your team that you will all get through this. Charge yourself to communicate what you know about the unfolding changes, most importantly with timeliness and courage.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that words are powerful. We live in an imaginative culture that really does not need any help imagining the worst. Finding softer adjectives to describe a changing situation not only puts your team at ease but it puts you at ease as well. In doing this you turn down the heat and thereby turn down the internal resistance. If you are calm, others will naturally mirror your actions and trust where you are leading them. Be honest and transparent without delay and go forward.
Jessica is an Executive Business Coach and Corporate Facilitator with two decades of experience across a wide spectrum of industries. She has a unique ability to diagnose patterns that disrupt profitability and keep corporations stunted in their growth and sustainability. She specializes in the health of corporate culture, knowing that what got many companies to the top are not typically the same tactics and skills that will keep them there. Jessica has worked in and with start-ups, mid-sized and large companies in sectors ranging from Real Estate, Consumer Goods, Insurance, Health Care, Manufacturing to Education in several states across the USA. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, she completed her Masters of Science in Traditional Medicine in 2015. Expanding on her work in 2017, she seized the opportunity to relocate to her hometown of St. Louis Missouri, USA now dubbed “Silicon Prairie” where she works closely with Executives who are adjusting to the rapidly changing workforce and culture. For Jessica, it’s about legacy - the person, the company, the culture, the brand and ultimately the impact. Link her at firstname.lastname@example.org