Leadership – Thriving in Crisis

I have been pondering many things since we were placed in quarantine for the Covid-19 crises.   And among these many ponderings, the one that surfaces most often during my conversations with clients is this concept of crisis leadership.

This is a pandemic and it is not business as usual.  This is unchartered water for most of us and navigating it successfully requires a different kind of leadership.  Many coaching conversations in these moments are focused on discussion of the many and varied adjustments that work and life have required us to make to keep ourselves and our broader communities safe.  And what does this different kind of leadership look like?   Here at Red Bug Coaching & Consulting Inc, I refer to it as Conscious Leadership. 

Jeff Klein, Chief Executive Officer of Working for Good describes it best…” A conscious leader is someone who leads with conscious awareness.  Conscious awareness is a process of recognizing what is going on inside and out, the effects of decisions and actions, and the interaction between a complex array of factors and forces.”

Of course, in the immediate outset of the various ‘States of Emergency’ being put into place many of the leaders I coach were asking themselves – what do I need to do?  This is a fight or flight response and is the ‘sweet spot’ for many leaders.  Solving problems is their comfort zone.  And don’t get me wrong, this is a needed and necessary question to move people to act in times of crisis.

The question “What do I need to DO?” is an important question and is a key factor to successfully navigating your team during a crisis.    The other key question and one that is not always obvious is “How do I need to BE in this crisis?”  This is the question that supports a leader’s capacity to work as a conscious leader.  This is the question that opens leaders up to a broader perspective on what value they bring to their organizations.  It allows them to bring awareness to the emotional intelligence that is necessary for successfully navigating in times of crisis and strengthening individual and team resilience.   

This is however where some leaders get stuck.  They can’t quite figure out how to Do the BE…so to speak.  As a coach, I break it down for them so they can tap into their emotional intelligence in a way that it supports them and their teams.

Three steps to BEcoming the Chief Emotional Officer for your team:

  1. Tune in to FEELINGS/EMOTIONS. This requires asking yourself what you are feeling at any given time and listening to your emotions as a source of information.  What are your feelings telling you that you need?  Once a leader is doing this for themselves this can then be asked of others.  Tuning into your team’s emotional state is critical to achieving results.  What do they need to address, what support do they need so that they can move forward?  
  2. Ask QUESTIONS.  Sounds simple however for some leaders their default is to provide solutions.    Times of crisis call for change, innovation, and adaptation and these need leaders to flex your curiosity muscles. You may need to get out of your own way by letting go of your comfortable norm of providing solutions and make way for your team to flex their divergent thinking skills.   
  3. Be AUTHENTIC.  There is a quote by Parker Palmer that captures the importance of this third step, and it reads “The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart.”  Successfully navigating yourself and your team during times of crisis requires leaders to BE kind, BE compassionate and BE empathetic to yourself and with others.  These are emotions of the heart. 

We will get through this crisis and my hope is that leaders will emerge with a broader perspective of what it takes to BE a leader.   I hope you are encouraged to give these three steps a try – maybe not all at once.  Start slow and restart as often as needed. Improvement requires practice.    

I work with leaders and support them in exploring these concepts and then to moving from exploration to intentional action.  Reach out if you want to explore with me!     

Take Care, Stay Healthy & Let’s chat…

Tanya

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