Leading In Times of Crisis: Modeling Self-Care and Resilience

Right now, many organizations are planning for re-entry, some even navigating a slow return to pre-COVID environments and routines. Leaders are reimagining the future of work while still responding to present organizational demands and opportunities. As we hover between what was and will be, we are reminded of the journey ahead and the resilience needed to effectively support and lead our people through this ongoing crisis.

Tapping into our emotional intelligence to inform our decision-making and regulate how we respond to our own and others’ needs along the way is vital to ensuring our organizations emerge from this pandemic stronger than before. While self-care at this time might feel self-indulgent, it is critical to caring for and leading others. We have an obligation to display through our own behavior and interactions how we are keeping ourselves whole, balanced, and resilient in order to give our people permission to prioritize what they need to meet the challenges at hand.

What does self-care look like for leaders amid COVID? Make time for what “fuels you.” Regularly pause to clear your head, reflect, and understand what you need in the moment. Accept that in this time of great uncertainty you will not have all the answers, and this is okay. Regularly seek connection with peer leaders and lean on trusted advisors for guidance and support.

As a leader, are you present and aware of where you are emotionally and what you need to support yourself? Are you proactively caring for yourself or reacting moment to moment? Do you have a support system and trusted advisors in place?

In addition to practicing self-care, we can focus on equipping ourselves with the psychological skills necessary to forge ahead and lessen the continuing impacts of the pandemic. Pioneer of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, asserts that mindset is the key to cultivating resilience and even achieving post-traumatic growth—moving beyond recovery to adapting and innovating. While several factors contribute to resilience, the ability to draw on mental and emotional reserves to recover quickly and flourish in the wake of adversity is essential.

This “mental toughness” can be developed through a variety of practices including mindfulness and self-regulation to fundamentally shift the way we relate to our thoughts and feelings and improve our ability to respond under pressure. Promoting resilient thinking in ourselves and others can help to minimize catastrophic notions and see choices, opportunities, and solutions versus problems. Highlighting signature strengths within yourself and your people and how they can be honed and applied in new ways can help teams adapt to adversity and facilitate progress. In addition to ongoing, positive communication and engagement with our people, employing authentic and inspirational communication to articulate a compelling vision offering direction and hope can help to strengthen organizational trust, relationships, and commitment to shaping a better future.

Our mindset has the power to determine how we perceive and emotionally respond to crisis. While fear, denial, and blame can hinder our ability to move forward, shifting our thinking to recall successes, consider new possibilities, and reflect on the collective resources and capabilities of our people and organizations can boost our own resilience and rally our teams. Start by creating a narrative for your organization in which this time is seen as a fork in the road, and challenge your people to do more than endure this crisis but embrace the opportunity to discover new strengths and thrive.

Are you modeling a resilient mindset in the “moments that matter”? How are you supporting your people in building this skill?

We recently volunteered our time to host a series of Leading in Times of Crisis workshops to support our executive network in navigating the uncertainty and change brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. This is the third in a sequence of articles derived from the workshop offering change expertise and resources to help equip leaders at all levels to lead their people through this crisis successfully. See our previous article on compassionate, courageous leadership.

DCG’s purpose—and promise—has always been to help leaders lead change, and it drives us now more than ever to support our colleagues, clients, partners, and friends in managing through the impacts of COVID-19. Our team is with you on this journey, and we are here to help.

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