The ongoing Corona crisis has been one of the most testing times in recent history that has tested the business leaders’ capacity to adapt and change in almost real-time. As a leader, your team looks at you to guide them through such turbulent times, and it’s this ability to recover quickly and effectively from temporary setbacks and failures that make you a resilient leader. A resilient leader always maintains a positive attitude and a strong sense of opportunity during periods of turbulence or disruption. When faced with uncertainties and disruption, a resilient leader finds ways to move forward and avoids getting stuck.
As resilient leaders, one of the most critical roles right now is to sustain: to sustain their people, many of whom are experiencing not only fatigue but more stresses than they ever have; to sustain their organizations in continuing to create value for their stakeholders, and to sustain society as it experiences multiple existential threats. But just as important, it is a must sustain our own ability to lead so that we can continue to serve over the long journey ahead.
Everyone is aware that all the companies are in different stages of dealing with the outbreak, and therefore the impacts vary by geography and sector. But regardless of the extent of the virus’s impact on the organizations, there are few qualities of resilient leadership that distinguish successful CEOs as they guide their enterprises through the COVID-19 crisis
Think differently and focus on clarifying the purpose
As we all slowly progress into the recovery phase of this crisis, the post-pandemic era will require leaders to recognize and reinforce critical shifts in the mind-set of their workforce. The first step that leaders should take towards the recovery of their organization is to rediscover or reemphasize the purpose of the organization. Many a time during a crisis such as now, the focus of the businesses is often to zero – in on their bottom-line fundamentals and metrics. However, as there have been several markets and societal shifts caused by the Covid-19 crisis, many companies will now be looking forward to seizing this opportunity to grow and change their business models. Hence, instead of narrowing their focus during this hour, resilient leaders should consider pulling back and reminding themselves of their guiding principles to create something that leaves the difficulty far behind for a better future.
Focus on enabling communication and trust
At a time when teams are interacting less, good leaders need to prioritize and model strong communication. William Vanderveer, CEO of Redefine Healthcare, said leaders must communicate more than ever for their teams to be on board and trust their guidance. There is an additional layer of challenges when it comes to remote communication and we have to instill trust with our team,” Vanderveer said “Keep an open line of communication. Remote work culture has flattened the flow of communications and made managers less of gatekeepers and more communication enablers. Leaders should take time for personal outreach, one-on-ones, and frequent all-hands sessions, and encourage direct reports to have lots of skip-level discussions,” This approach resonates with the next generation of talent and is here to stay post-COVID.
Act with urgency
A well-documented problem with any ambiguous threat is the clear tendency to wait for more information and clarity. The risks of delaying decision-making are often invisible. But in a situation where there is a crisis, wasting significant time in the vain hope that greater clarity will prove no action is needed is dangerous — particularly in the aspect of a pandemic with an exponential growth rate, when each additional day of delay contributes even greater destruction than the last. Against the natural and normal tendency toward delay, acting with urgency means leaders jump into the fray without all the information they would dearly like.
From short-term contingency planning to mid-and long-term economic and scenario planning, leaders must analyze the related impact of the pre and post Covid-19 crisis on their operations, employees, financing, and so forth. It is critical for leaders to model the alignment of financial resources to the cash required to ramp-up their operations in the post-COVID-19 era. Businesses with a “business as usual” approach after COVID-19 may not last long. A business continuity plan is most essential and has to be framed for the near future. The new ways of working will see greater collaboration with technology, remote working, social distancing, new models of hygiene, and adaptability. Keep feedback lines open. Top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side. Encourage sharing of what’s working and what isn’t and be open to suggestions to make things work better for all people. Contact individuals, all of your teams, with a personalized message, not just an “all company” email.
Resilient Leaders Develop Others
The most resilient leaders are concerned and focus on the development of their teams. Developing others helps everyone to learn from their mistakes. We continue to find that leaders who want and accept honest feedback for themselves are more likely to give productive feedback and coaching to others and help everyone to grow.
With no end in sight, the pandemic has taken a toll on people emotionally, financially, and physically. What is the reason that some people can quickly adapt, get over the unresourceful state, and are able to handle the situation and some don’t? How can people cope up with the dynamic environment that changes every day, every week, and every month?
The single word for that is ‘Resilience’, ‘High-Quality Thinking’. Are you resilient enough to let go of setbacks, and move on with things? Do you think at a higher level of operating? What enables resilience/high quality thinking to be activated so that a person can ride the wave rather than drown in the flood of emotions, and circumstances?
Here are some ways to improve the emotional/thinking muscles to propel you forward, and ensure that you are able to sail through during tough times, by maintaining your mental well-being, and improving your happiness quotient:
Reduce your expectations from yourself a bit:
The reason to lower expectations is to manage the emotional state.
Emotional State = Expectations – Reality
Reducing expectations brings you closer to reality, which is different in different contexts during the Pandemic. Example: Don’t think of going on a cruise for entertainment. Find different ways to keep yourself entertained. Don’t think about becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2020, maintaining general fitness will do. As an entrepreneur don’t think of becoming Bill Gates during this time, manage a gentle approach, which is do-able based on circumstances. If you can pull through, become Bill Gates, or Arnold, and go on a private cruise, please do, but if expectations are killing you, then it is pointless to die because of expectations in this hour, days, weeks, and months.
Exercise in the form of walking, running, and if you have access to weight training, do that. It will be useful to maintain your fitness, to keep you mentally and physically active.
Ensure that you get adequate sleep. If you are working from home, ensure that you maintain a routine, and ensure proper sleep. It is easy to fall into the trap of gadgets, media, and other things to keep oneself busy.
Eat wholesome food:
Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, protein-rich diet. Cut down on alcohol, cigarettes, fatty food, etc. Your body is your place of worship, treat it with care, and love.
Drink a lot of water, and move around:
During the day, drink a lot of water, and take a lot of mental breaks, visit your terrace, balcony, sidewalks, go somewhere.
Stay away from too much Social Media/Media:
Stay away from news channels that promote negativity. Stay away from social media where some people are frustrated and will drag you into needless commenting.
Keep up with your long-term plans:
Do things keeping in mind the long term benefits and accordingly act. Keep those plans active, and yourself engaged with those.
Manage short term plans/strategies:
Bring more short-term strategies in your personal and professional life to enhance productivity and physical and mental well-being.
Relive your goals on daily basis:
At the end of the day relive your goals, before you go to bed, and the next day morning who knows, you may add something exciting to them, or start new ones.
Appreciate what you have:
Whatever you have and is working on, start to appreciate that. Start to feel good about that on a daily basis, and do that first thing in the morning.
Enjoy this phase of your life:
Rather than cribbing and sulking, enjoy the slowness of present times. Enjoy slow days, and become slow during slow days to manage slowness.
Speak with friends:
If you can’t meet your friends, speak with them, video chat with them. Get your dose of friendly gossip, and bonding.
Even if you are home, take a mental vacation. Switch off your TV, stay away from social media, laptop, and just relax. Sip a cup of hot tea, read a book, journal, listen to music, and do nothing. Doing nothing is important!!!
No one plans for a pandemic, and if you are impacted in some way or the other, release the guilt, release the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘what I could’ thoughts, and let yourself Free. Remember to breathe, and enjoy the air traversing your windpipe, providing you with a dose of life, moment by moment to live and cherish!