Crises bring out either the best in people or the worst.
There’s no middle ground. Whether it’s a natural disaster like a hurricane, or in this case a medical disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic, we respond similarly. This particular crisis is multi-faceted. There is the impending crisis of this pandemic as it makes it’s way through the U.S. Add the early warning signs of a financial downturn that could be worse than the Great Recession, depending on how badly the pandemic hits us and how the government responds. Then there’s the possibility of the collapse of the health care system, which is almost entirely dependent on how well everyone follows the CDC’s best practices for staying healthy.
These truly are extraordinary times. Your team needs you to be a good role model. If you want to ensure that you respond as best you can, you can start the following conscious leadership practices. If you’re already doing them, increase the time you spend on them.
Best Practices for Being a Conscious Leader During a Crisis:
- Practice extreme self-care. Often, we respond poorly when we’re not taking care of our basic needs. Get at least seven hours of sleep every night. To facilitate better sleep, avoid caffeine and electronics for at least an hour before you go to bed. Exercise for at least thirty minutes, four or more days a week. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’s better than nothing. Listen to your mother and eat your vegetables! Try to minimize your sugar and alcohol intake. Easier said than done when stress is high, but the benefits are great.
- Follow the CDC’s best practices for staying healthy. Model these practices for your employees, too. Wash your hands regularly. Make hand sanitizer available throughout the office. Maintain “social distance” of six to ten feet away from others as much as possible. If you have any symptoms of being sick, stay home. As much as possible, encourage people to work from home. If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into the crook of your arm or, better yet, a tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately, then wash your hands.
- Build emotional intelligence. Specifically, focus on self-awareness and self-management. Meditate, even if it’s only for ten minutes a day. Journal to reflect on how you’re feeling and how you’re responding to people. Talk to your coach or therapist about what’s happening. If you don’t have a coach, consider getting one to help you through this. In addition to self-care, stop multi-tasking. Practice being truly present with others, both in meetings and one-on-one.
- Check in regularly with your team. According to the CDC, COVID-19 has the greatest impact on the elderly and people with suppressed and sensitive immune systems. It’s unlikely your employees will be severely impacted themselves, but people they love could be. We’ve noticed that our clients have been appreciative to have the ability to check in about how they’re feeling about all this for a few minutes at the beginning of our calls.
Be a Good Human
At the end of the day, these suggestions are really about being a decent human being. With our increased usage of and reliance on technology, we can forget about the importance of the human connection. During every crisis known to humanity in the past, what gets us through is not the technology. Technology can help, but it’s the human connection that gets us through. We need as many of our leaders as possible to be conscious leaders during this crisis. What can you do to be a better human today?