In all of my life I have never imagined a day when I would see employee directives to work from home, travel bans, self-quarantine, masks being worn as fashion statements, and depleted grocery store shelves. With no “playbook” as to how to respond, I’ve found myself trying to find the balance as a mother, business owner, friend, and leader. My initial instinct was that of panic, perhaps even that of over-reaction. I’ve evolved over the last few weeks to a cautious ambiguity.
It is my role as a leader that has me navigating the uncertain path with an “extra-safe” resolve. My goal is to minimize any potential fall out, keep fear in check, and create contingencies as we continue to forecast the future. This has been a struggle as panic and fear have overshadowed calm and courage. I want to show decisiveness, but in a world that is lacking in reliable information and immense ambiguity I find that my decisions only trigger anxiety.
As I’ve settled into this “new norm” (Does anyone else despise those words?) I find myself exploring ways to deal with the stress and uncertainty. Self-certainty is one of those ways. It’s my responsibility to ensure that I’m showing up and dialing down the anxiety, versus stoking it. I have done this through encouraging optimism, establishing a sense of community, and being more compassionate. I’m listening more and providing healthy feedback where appropriate. I am emulating a safety net that keeps the fear in check in these uncertain times.
Coupled with this, is fostering a sense of family amongst the organizations and staff. We are all facing an unknown and while each person’s unknown may vary from person to person, we are all “in it together.” We are rallied together for a common purpose. The old adage of “the worst of times and the best of times” comes to mind. It’s helped me build trust, grow loyalty and strengthen the bonds of my “family.”
One of my weaknesses in the past was leading with my head and not my heart. I’ve certainly had to learn how to adjust to ensure that I’ve connected with my team on an emotional level. Prioritizing them, listening to them, making myself more available to connect in unscripted ways has taken precedence. I want them to know I genuinely support them.
Perhaps the most important skill set at this point in time is building organizational resilience. Finding creative ways to solve logistical challenges and brainstorming approaches to ensure that organizationally we emerge on the other side of this pandemic more agile, more competitive, and better off than we did going into it. This has been the catalyst for doing business better than we’ve ever done it before.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the worst of times can bring out the best in people. I can say, with certainty, that this association has the best of the best in members. Collectively we can think more broadly, advance more intelligently and focus on being the best leaders we can.