Most of us are overwhelmed right now. There’s a lot to consider, to plan for, and to address. I put together this list of leadership strategies based on what I see happening with my clients to offer you some support. Don’t expect to do them all at once. Pick a couple and try to use them for a few days and see if they help. If they’re working, add in a couple more. We can do this!
- First, take care of yourself. Make sure you are doing all that helps you to maintain balance, including the things on this list.
- Establish routines – both personal and professional. Routines help to ease anxiety about the unknown.
- Don’t schedule more than 1.5 hours without a break. Science says our brains don’t function as well without it.
- Use a combination of email, phone, and video (replacing in person) to create variety and break up the sameness.
- Set weekly goals and a way to track them. Not anything big, more like a daily tracker for projects and tasks. Hold yourself accountable and encourage others to do the same.
- When talking with employees, refrain from black and white thinking – “all or nothing,” keeps people in the neutral zone.
- Discourage catastrophizing. Yes, the situation is not good, however, we can manage.
- Sometimes playing out worst-case scenarios for people helps them understand that there is a way to handle it and plans can be made to mitigate it.
- If your team members are fearful, ask questions to test the reality of those fears. Often fears are far worse than the actual situation.
- Empathize with others but don’t encourage negative thinking. “I can understand how you might feel that way, what else have you thought about as an alternative,” can be a reframe.
- Leave white space on your calendar, but with a note not to schedule you, at least 2-3 times per day. It’s your drive-by time to pick up the phone/face time and “visit” with anyone you feel like. A 5- or 10-minute pick me up to help you relax and reconnect.
- Remember it’s okay not to be perfect. Perfection is an illusion anyway!
- Listen, Listen, Listen. Don’t move to solve mode, listen to learn, and help others solve their own problems – with a little nudge sometimes.
- Set aside 5 minutes at the end of every day for a self-debrief – what went well, what didn’t go well and what will you do differently tomorrow. No self-criticism, just a realistic look at the day and your participation in it. Don’t “should” on yourself.
- Celebrate the small wins – home runs will be few and far between, (especially without baseball!), so just get on first base for now and acknowledge how good that is, because it is.
- Mistakes happen, failures lead to better outcomes. Without them, we would have no idea how to create and innovate.
- The burden of the world is not on your shoulders. No one can solve anything completely alone. We can only make it better together.
I hope these strategies will support your leadership during these challenging times.