For Such a Time as This: Part 2
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
Last week I shared where the For Such a Time as This phrase originated. I also shared three steps that a leader needs to take when faced with a crisis. The first step is for the leader to make the shift. We need to mentally make the shift from a fearful, negative focus to a concerned but forward-looking opportunity focus. The second step is to ask yourself, “How will this crisis make me better?” As Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Step three is to ask yourself how this crisis will help others. We know that leadership is never about us; it’s always about others, so this would be the next logical action. How can we help others emotionally process through the crisis and emerge stronger on the other side? Toward the end of last week’s podcast, I made this comment: “When things get out of control, leaders help people regain control for themselves.” With that in mind, let’s get started.
- Communicate judiciously, more than continually – Communication is a crucial skill for any leader, and the best leaders hone their communication skills continually. In a time of crisis, we need to realize that more isn’t better. The best leaders think through what they want to accomplish and then plan a thoughtful, judicious message. Bombarding our teams with endless emails and meetings can create more stress in a time when their senses are already overloaded. Team communications are great up to a point, but don’t forget that we must connect on an individual basis.
- Come Along Side Them – Going along with my comment about connecting on an individual basis, the best leaders go to where the individual is. Where are they mentally and emotionally? It’s time to realize that coaching becomes fundamental during challenging times. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the Law of Cause and Effect is the “Law of Laws.” Emerson knew that fear is a symptom of our thoughts. Our team members are fearful, and we need to help them see that their fear is a symptom, not a tangible reality. Our goal is to bring awareness of this fact and help them process through their thoughts. We don’t eliminate the fear, but rather give team members the ability to deal with their own fears. Through careful questions, we can help others find the cause of their thoughts and then their fears.
- Help Them Move to a Positive Life Stance – Once our team members have embraced the cause and effect relationship with fear, it’s time to bring some relevance and a new perspective. Please be careful here. We are not dismissing fears or making light of a seriously difficult situation, but rather putting it in perspective. An excellent tool for this is to help team members reflect on the past. In my email from a few weeks ago, I shared that a colleague emailed me and said: “Here we go again.” While COVID-19 is new, it’s not the first crisis. Here are just a few that we have been through in the last two decades, Y2K, 9/11, Anthrax, West Nile, SARS, The Bird Flu, The Great Recession, H1N1, and Ebola. Now I think COVID-19 is much more severe than any other pandemic in my lifetime, but my grandparents all lived through the Spanish Flu. In October of 1918, over 195,000 Americans died. Did you catch that? My grandparents LIVED through the Spanish Flu pandemic. I don’t know of any relative that perished from it. Until COVID-19 hit, our economy had grown consistently since the great recession. This, too, shall pass. We can find great encouragement in thinking through what we have already endured. Once we regain our Positive Life Stance, we can move on to find a great opportunity.
If you would like to learn more about these three steps, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 147 of The Next Page podcast as we discuss in greater detail how this is accomplished.