How great leaders are showing the way through the coronavirus crisis
— May 10th, 2020
Lockdown is most definitely amplifying the polar extremes of others' behavior towards dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s a wonderful window into the world of human psychology, if you care to look. Basically put, there are two camps. One group of people darkens our day filling us with disbelief in humanity, while the other lights our world with hope and unity, inspiration, and gratitude.
Those in a leadership position have nevermore been in the spotlight and they too are falling into these two camps. During a crisis, we naturally turn to leaders in government, in academia, in communities, in business to help guide and support us in moving forward.
Those that are courageously stepping up to lead by great example, whether in positions of authority or not, are teaching us some wonderfully powerful lessons of how great humanity can be. How we can all be.
Employee communications and coronavirus – How to stay the course through a long crisis
Here are some lessons we can learn from role-model leaders during these challenging times.
Videoconferencing is giving us a glimpse into the lives of our leaders as we’ve never seen before. Suits, nail polish, perfectly coiffeured hair, slick and scripted presentations have been cast aside because we just can’t access or want or need those things right now.
We’re seeing video calls from people’s kitchens, with colleagues wearing comfier clothes and kids or pets making a noise in the background.
We’re seeing the expressions of worry or frustration etched on their faces. Or more relaxed or contemplative body language. Or snippets of humor and a fun side we’ve never noticed.
This window into the very personal lives and normally hidden depths of our leader’s character makes us finally realize they’re just like us. They really are humans too – juggling their lives, facing distractions, dealing with their emotions, working their way through this in their own way, just like the rest of us.
Brené Brown said that ‘Vulnerability is a universal human emotion that we feel when we expose ourselves to others and during times of risk or uncertainty’.
For those leaders who are courageously showing up on camera showing the imperfect, honest reality of their world, we thank you for sharing your vulnerability.
It teaches us that when we are courageous enough to let our guard down, to bare our true selves, we will connect with other human beings and build respect and loyalty like never before.
‘Empathy is the most important instrument in a leader's toolbox’, according to Simon Sinek and great leaders are most definitely tapping into their empathetic side right now.
I’m seeing and hearing examples like:
- Personal phone calls to every furloughed employee from a Company Director to hear exactly how his staff are doing and finding out what support they need
- Managers taking the initiative to follow the Stop-Change-Continue model with their team to reassess their workload together, take the pressure off everyone and focus on the right work
- Team video calls being set up to talk purely about how everyone is feeling and genuinely reaching out to support each other on an individual level
- CEOs leading Town Hall videoconferences from their homes and recognizing the human impact of the crisis and sharing how they’re personally feeling first and foremost before sharing the company update
This crisis is teaching us that empathy in leadership, and in life, is absolutely key because it makes others feel listened to, understood, and valued. It creates a powerful bond between fellow human beings. And wow, that feels good!
Clarity and honesty
Right now when our world feels so strange and uncertain we crave a sense of purpose with clarity on a path forwards.
Many leaders are making tough decisions right now that affect millions of employees, yet how those decisions are communicated by them will impact how their employees feel and what they do in the long-term.
Leaders who provide clarity and speak honestly will secure employee loyalty and keep their reputations intact. Leaders who do this well teach us that with clarity we can remain focused, with purpose we can feel united and hopeful, and with honesty we can trust each other.
They give us hope for the future.
We are all finding our way, in our own style, through the new challenges and opportunities that the coronavirus pandemic has presented to us.
Yet if we care to stop, look, and listen we can take the lessons from those who are exemplifying great leadership and humanity and model those inspiring traits to personally lead a much better post-coronavirus world.
Now, that thought gives me great hope.