I have awoken early this morning contemplating this extraordinary and extremely challenging phase of our lives. Life has changed beyond all recognition. The rule book has gone out of the window. What does it mean for leaders of organisations? How should we respond? What is our role here? And what does it mean to lead through coronavirus?
This is a crisis like no other has bestowed on us in my generation. The fear that is running deeply through our society is palpable. The streets are deserted. Businesses closing. Schools closing. The economy in freefall. Curfews. Daily government announcements. Shelves empty. Social media addiction. Worry over loved ones. Worry about paying the bills. Worry about our own health and the health of others. The NHS teetering. No hugs.
And then we are asked to work from home. Easier said than done! Especially when you live in the sticks and your broadband is slower than baking a Christmas cake…. What if you have kids at home too? Have you ever tried to hold a conference call with your children running around the house? Let alone using new virtual technologies. Slack, Asana, Zoom (I can do that one), Microsoft teams, Trello and on and on. We truly are living in a new virtual world, a world that has been forced upon us. We are in unchartered territory.
What I feel passionately about is that we cannot allow fear to take over the running of our world. This planet is too precious. Our lives are too precious. When we are gripped by fear, we stay small. We retreat. We allow our inner gremlins to take hold. Our motivation plummets. Tears start to flow. Self–doubt rears its ugly head and our confidence waivers. We feel lost at sea. We desperately try to make sense of things. And this is the vacuum for true leadership to step into.
We need to know we are not alone. That steps are being taken to ease things during this phase of darkness. More than ever, as leaders we have to show up in an even bigger way than ever before. I have been blown away at the messages coming through from CEOS of business across the UK. Heartfelt, practical and deeply caring words. There is a real sense that we are all in this together and together we can get through this crisis. There are daily examples of inspiring stories coming through from Pret giving away free coffee to our health workers to sing alongs on Italian balconies.
Each and everyone of us has to move away from fear and into hope. As leaders we must take a leading role in doing this. It is our duty to step up. We have to find that courage within to find the right words, to provide direction, to keep communicating with our teams. We have to find the light in this world of darkness.
I’m encourage every leader I know to go within. To seek the answers to their challenges. It is very easy to be consumed by worry and woe. You only need to check in on your sky news app to notice your energy levels fall flat. You are a leader for a reason. You have been called to step up. Whether that’s because you can offer clarity in ambiguity or you are a fantastic people leaders. Perhaps you are someone with endless energy to keep moving forwards. There are many different leaders and we need leaders to bring their intuition, their passion and their care to be visible. Now is the time to be visible like no other. Now is the time to unite your teams behind you. You have to be positive. You have to be strong. You have to demonstrate your compassion for others around you.
And above all, you have to be the very best version of you (warts and all) by integrating your whole self. Bringing all the complex parts of you together so you are aligned and in flow. Spending time on self–care is even more critical in these coming days and weeks as we all have to dig deep to access those energy reserves. Whether that’s exercising, time I nature, eating well or doing nothing. Looking after the whole self is critically important on so many levels.
Let’s not allow those inner gremlins to rule our world. Let us have a mindset of positivity, of hope, of courage.
I’d like to finish by sharing this wonderful Mother Teresa Poem: Do It Anyway. A philosophy we can all live by:
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.
Give the best you’ve got anyway.
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.