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Leading Through Trying Times

Leading Through Trying Times

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Every one of us is connected to each other. We are all one big ocean and our actions create ripples like waves. Our actions will inspire someone in some way—sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

This is true especially now, when our normal circumstances are changing, the ground is shifting under us. People are looking to their leaders and teams for guidance, reassurance, connection.

If you want to survive the current environment with a workforce that is intact, loyal and engaged, then it’s time to employ some leadership strategies that recognize the humanity of your people.

“People feel inspiration 50% more when they are in an organization with a leader with higher emotional intelligence. Their frustration levels are 30-40% less. Their intension to leave the profession and their burnout is lower. Even ethical behavior is related to the emotional skill of the supervisor and leader. Our leaders have to have these skills.”

–          Dr. Marc Brackett, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Lead From Your Heart

As a leader, you have the ability to create a profound sense of belonging and let people know that you care about them on a human level. This means you need to choose to lead from your heart and not your head.

How can you expect that the person that arrived for a 7:30 meeting, will be the same person that will spend their day focused on what the company needs—and most importantly what the customers need—while also trying to figure out what they are going to make for dinner, how they are going to find time to exercise, and call their mother?

You can only have those expectations when there is a sense of connection and understanding that acknowledges the whole picture. It starts with you and your ability to connect deeper with yourself. This then allows you to focus your energy on helping the people around you connect deeper with themselves and with you. Then everyone can connect deeper with the world around them and before you know it, your world is filled with generosity, abundance, love, support and inspiration.

Inspiration is an inside job. You must yourself be inspired to be inspiring. This requires you to look at yourself on the inside and know what you value and what your purpose is. You can’t be vulnerable if you don’t know what that really means; and most of us don’t take the time to find out.

In order to create a culture that allows people to bring their authentic, best, vulnerable selves to work, the leader must be willing to model it because most people don’t know what that looks like.

Embrace Emotional Intelligence

Do you have the courage to be vulnerable? It takes courage to set aside your ego, lay down your amour and be a vulnerable human. It takes courage to say “this is making me uncomfortable”, “I don’t know the answer to that”, “I’m sorry”, “you seem passionate about this, tell me more.”

Being VULNERABLE is a requirement in order to develop the deep relationships, friendships even, that will allow you to be a successful coach approach leader. If you are not willing to be vulnerable, no one else will either. The result is a bunch of representatives walking around being imposters, telling people what they think they want to hear, blaming others when things don’t go perfectly.

HUMILITY and EMPATHY are what keep blame and shame in check. Empathy is connected to the emotions that are tied to the experience. If you want to be empathetic, and not sympathetic, you need to go a bit deeper and understand how the person is feeling. This is not about fixing the problem. This is about making a choice to be in the same emotional space as the other person and be uncomfortable with them.

Humility happens when you put others above your own thoughts and feelings. It’s not easy, but stepping outside of yourself, and being fully present and accepting of other people’s thoughts, ideas and feelings has much greater impact than pushing your own agenda and priorities. Remember, people are doing the very best they can even when they clearly are not. The key to success is getting to the underpinning of why the results are not happening and that starts with you being humble.

Offer Support Rather Than Judgment

Most often, people’s intentions are good. However, we don’t judge people by their intentions, we judge them by their actions…what we perceive. To be of service to the other person, it’s time to put your judgments aside and focus on SUPPORT.

Sit alongside them, not across from them, and be part of the solution. Get curious and ask questions about the behaviors. And then LISTEN. And I mean really listen to what they say as well as all of the things they are not saying. Then ask questions and offer support.

Rather than this…

“I feel like it is taking forever for you to make progress on the X project. What have you been doing?”

Try this…

“There hasn’t been very much forward movement on the X project. Is that just my perception? I’m curious about what might be holding up the progress. What can I do to support you?”

Difficult and uncomfortable conversations is one place where talking about YOUR feelings is inappropriate. This is not about you and your feelings. Reflect on that with yourself and/or someone else so you can approach the conversation with an open mind, offering empathy and support.

There is a lot of discomfort out there these days. A lot of uncertainty. A lot of change. It’s understandable that emotions are running high, so your ability to incorporate emotional elements in your leadership will make or break the cohesiveness of your team and the results you create together.

“I have never met a truly transformational leader – and I’ve worked with a lot of leaders at big companies – that did not have a deep understanding of their own emotional landscape and the emotional landscape of other people.”  – Dr. Brené Brown

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