The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the world of work and life. What has not changed, however, is the need for great leadership. At GrowthPlay, we know that the most trusted leaders are focusing on these five core practices to step up, lean in, and lead well:
We only have to tune into the news for a brief minute to experience a breakdown in confidence. There is no shortage of things to remind us that we are living in an exponentially VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world right now.
And, this is precisely why our clients need us to step up, lean in, and stand out as courageous leaders. One of the things courageous leaders must do in times of crisis is lift morale by sending a message of hope. A leader’s hopeful outlook enables people to see beyond today’s challenges to tomorrow’s answers. The word hope is derived from the Old English word hopian, which means to “leap forward with expectation.”
But, how can we offer hope to others when we ourselves may not be feeling particularly hopeful? Here are three things research shows can help:
- Look to heroes – Take a quick moment to identify and think about people you consider heroic in times of great need, such as the first responders during 9/11 or the medical professionals that continue to show up to treat patients today despite the great risk to their own health and safety. Researchers have a name for the high we get from witnessing human goodness: moral elevation. And moral elevation has been shown to have many positive benefits, including inspiring optimism, making people want to be better, and encouraging people to act more altruistically. And the good news for leaders is it tends to spread to others—when we witness one person acting in ways that inspire moral elevation, others want to follow suit.
- Stay calm and maintain your focus – as leaders, we need to recognize our own need to regulate emotion so we can respond in constructive and helpful ways to external circumstances. Research has shown that the ability to adjust emotions by using rational thinking can be learned and practiced, in particular with mindfulness practices, including meditation, breathing, and exercise.
- Look outside yourself: Research suggests that when we recognize our common humanity and show compassion, we are more likely to pull together and solve even the most complex issues. You can start by practicing compassion on yourself and recognizing that we all have moments of fear and doubt and we all make mistakes. You will not be perfect or impenetrable to the swirl of chaos surrounding you, but you can recognize and remember that how we support and bolster ourselves by supporting and bolstering each other is critical and can give you the peace of mind to comfort others.
Finally, seek inspiration from other leaders who can bolster your own sense of perspective, calm, and confidence. Here are a few examples that may lift you up when you need your own shot of inspiration:
- “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford
- “Hope is the pillar that holds up the world.” – Pliny the Elder
- “Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
- “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron
- “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ― Anais Nin