Leading through this coronavirus pandemic without losing your head

by | Mar 20, 2020 | CEO/Executive Directors | 0 comments

Wow. Leading in an age of this Covid-19 coronavirus is challenging. (I was going to say “unprecedented” but I’ve said that so many times already this week!)

In talking with leaders, most are wrestling with fear, doubt, and worry about letting their teams down. They never expected to be having to make decisions about layoffs. Or about outright closures of events and businesses.

On today’s episode of the New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast, they interviewed the owner of Sunny’s Bar in Brooklyn. The owner said,

“We’ll take it day by day. If you feel like you’re paralyzed and can’t do something about the situation you’re in, if you can’t take that first step, try to lift your foot. And if you can’t lift your foot, try to wiggle your toe. And we’ll get through it.”

As we juggle staffs working from home, clients with their lives up-ended, and the ever-present awareness of an invisible virus, here are a few things leaders are doing to lift their foot. Or at least wiggle their toe.

Some movements to make when life feels paralyzing

#coffeefromhome #coffeefromhome

One leader, Cherian Koshy from the Des Moines Center for the Performing Arts is using his team’s Slack channel to try to simulate some parts of working together. Since they can’t have the their morning coffee together, they’ve created a Slack channel called #coffeefromhome. Each morning, they take a picture of their coffee mug and share it to the group.

Checking in with 10 past clients

In a call this week, leadership expert Barry Banther recommended reaching out to 10 past clients just to check in. I’ll admit, all the “How are you doing?” texts, emails, and Twitter DMs have been amazing. It’s great to know people are thinking of me.

Earlier this week, tweeted an article from Psychology Today called “4 Keys to Inner Peace in the Age of Corona.” In it, keys 3 and 4 are “connection” and “compassion for others.” These “How are you doing?” messages are helping fulfill both. I challenge you to give it a try. Reach out to 10 clients, donors, or colleagues. Past or present. And ask them how they’re doing.

Virtual Happy Hours Virtual Happy Hour

A number of people are using Zoom for meetings and one-on-one calls. But Zoom is even being used for social times now. A group of us speak at noon every day, checking in with each other, making sure people are staying connected. And my wife and I tried our hand at a “virtual Happy Hour.” We posted a Zoom link in a couple groups with that we’d be opening a Happy Hour.

It was a blast! Throughout the hour, people came and went. And we all left feeling just bit more connected to human beings outside our houses.

To lift your foot, or wiggle your tow, you need time for yourself

It’s draining being a leader with people depending on you. Add a pandemic like this Covid-19 coronavirus, and it can be crushing.

The first two point in “4 Keys to Inner Peace in the Age of Corona” are

  1. Breathing
  2. Self-compassion

We can be our own worst enemy. That sense of responsibility can serve you well as a leader. But it can get out-of-hand when we start tearing ourselves apart. As digital marketing expert Christopher S. Penn said in a post, it’s ok to not be ok right now. So get to a quiet place where you can take a breath. The “4 Keys” article describes an exercise that has proven effective in helping veterans with PTSD. It will help you too.

If you want more of an understanding how stress is limiting your ability to make good decisions, we’ve taken the paywall down on Jessica Sharp’s Nonprofit Academy training “What Leaders Need to Know About the Brain.” You can access it free at: https://thenonprofitacademy.com/trainings/know-the-brain/

This coronavirus pandemic is changing how we communicate with those we lead. You can do this. Keep putting one foot forward. Even if that’s just wiggling a toe right now.



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