Leadership in a crisis is demanding: Look after you!

By Dave Hickey

In today’s economy stress, inattention and change are the norm.  We’re doing more with less. Visions are getting bigger and timelines are getting shorter.

The Pandemic and its continuing impact have brought this into even sharper focus. Our business models have been turned inside out, the economic outlook is challenging (to say the least) and our own and our colleagues’ personal concerns have multiplied.

Leaders have to plan for 2021 not knowing how exactly COVID-19’s shock waves will impact their customers, suppliers, colleagues or the societies in which they live.

Employees expect leaders to lead. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 reports that 71% of employees agree “It’s critically important for my CEO to respond to challenging times”. What’s more 76% want their CEO’s to take the lead on change rather than have it imposed.

A survey this year by Thrive Global confirms that employees trust their employers more than either politicians or the media.

That’s an awful lot of pressure on any one leader or leadership team.

In the face of all this, how can leaders be their best and help guide their organisations through this turbulence?

Over 1,800 years ago, Marcus Aurelius the (‘last good’) Roman Emperor and philosopher wrote:

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

The ability to lead and to deal with all this complexity comes from within – what he called the ‘Inner Citadel’. (Amongst the many challenges he faced was a plague which killed an estimated five million people in the empire!)

This need for inner strength may not be news to many of us, and we have seen some great leadership in society and business over the past few months. But this is only the end of the beginning and we’re all uncertain what happens next or where we’re headed.

For tomorrow’s world, we must be leaders who are proactive, rather than reactive.  Leaders who truly understand their power to create the culture they want, instead of managing the culture they have.

To avoid burnout and be ready for this marathon, leaders must look after themselves.

1.      Recharge & Reset

Make sure you get enough sleep and relaxation even if it’s in the form of physical activity. Re-set a few times during the day with a minute’s deep breathing for example.

2.      Fuel

Refuel the body and mind. Don’t forget to eat well. Use downtime to learn something new or garner a new perspective.

3.      Connect

Genuinely connect with colleagues, family and customers. Listen to what they’re saying, to their challenges and problems. Connect with other leaders who’re facing similar challenges. Develop relationships with trusted peers with whom you can share insights and issues.

4.      Focus

You can’t boil the ocean or solve all your problems at one go. Identify, prioritise, action and measure. Move on to the next one.

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius

Leading At The Edge Online on 7th October brings together international speakers on Leadership to help you be the best Leader you can be.