TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF
Before anything else, it is important to take good care of yourself. It is very likely that an event like this has affected you as a human being. Who is not? Your energy is really important, because your energy affects your whole team.
Do you have clarity about what’s going on inside of you? This is very important. Maybe you have underestimated the situation at first. Or maybe you panicked and had difficulty concentrating and turning off the news. Are there things you’re worrying about, like family, friends or finances? Is this taking up a lot of your energy? What situation do you find yourself in now? Do you suddenly have to step up as a teacher for your kids, do you feel alone, have you found a new balance with your partner, do you have a nice work area in your home?
It is important to have clarity about your situation, without making things bigger or smaller than they really are. What are the facts? What can and can’t you influence? Be understanding towards yourself. There are unpredictable things about this situation, like the uncertainty of how long all of this will last and what the effects will be. The more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of your team. And by taking care of yourself, you can bring a sense of calm, balance and clarity to the team and create a foundation for a healthy mindset for everyone.
Take a moment to reflect on everything that’s happened. Reflect and ask yourself things like:
- What happened to me when Corona ‘arised’?
- What has happened since then and how have I handled that?
- What do I need now to have a clear mindset in this situation?
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s important that you keep prioritizing yourself. This way you can recharge and keep giving and inspire others to do the same.
It doesn’t mean you have to carry the load by yourself and have all the answers. You have the right to be vulnerable as a leader and you can express that you don’t know certain things or don’t have control over things. Mature vulnerability only makes you stronger; honest, sincere and authentic.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR TEAM
After you have evaluated your own situation it is important to evaluate your team members, or your senior managers, so that they can evaluate their teams and update you on important details.
Think about every single team member. What do you know about them? Are there any important things you don’t know? Does he or she have kids? How old are these kids? What’s their partner’s situation? Are they feeling lonely or worried about their parents? Are they feeling anxious? When you are talking to your team members, try not to just listen to what they say, but also to what they are not saying. Maybe they’re laughing away their problems. How are they really doing?
What I advise when I work with leaders is to take a sheet of paper and make a visual representation of the team and write down everyone’s name. Take time to really sit with your sheet of paper, instead of just thinking about these people. Try to sense in with your energy: how is this person really doing? It might surprise you what valuable insights might come up.
When there are things you don’t know, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and ask. The more vulnerable you are, the more someone else will feel comfortable being vulnerable towards you. Try to be understanding about everyone’s situation. Be empathetic and help them discern what they can and cannot influence. Support them in taking care of themselves and having a clear mindset and knowing what they need, so they can indicate this when needed.
Try to be in touch with your team daily or at least regularly. Even if it’s just a short update. It’s about quality and consistency and not about length. Let them know you are there for them and that you support them.
MAKE SURE THE FOCUS IS CLEAR
In a crisis it is important that people feel supported and valued. It’s recommended to put everyone’s health and wellbeing above anything else and to communicate this clearly. This will make people feel more comfortable about letting you know what they need.
Make sure people know about each other’s personal situation. Who is at home with three kids without a partner, who has elderly parents, who feels lonely etc. This all helps in understanding each other.
Fun is also important. Encourage everyone to keep in touch with each other, for example in the form of virtual coffee dates or the extra phone call. In addition to the necessary team meetings, also make time for online Friday afternoon drinks or something else that the people in your team appreciate.
Work content is also very important: focus on the basics and on common goals and go step by step.
Communicate clearly what you can communicate, what you know and what you don’t know. Be clear about short and long term goals, even when they might change again next week..