Let’s put things into perspective: only months ago you were living one life, leading an organization, and making decisions on what you felt were basic known premises. Then, the world changed. Virtually overnight, much of what you thought were givens—like air travel or hugging a loved one—was no longer possible. Almost every aspect of your personal and professional life has been significantly impacted. If you feel overwhelmed, lost, scared, and uncertain, please do not think of yourself as weak or needy. Those are very appropriate emotions in this situation. It would actually be crazy if you didn’t feel that way.
We are living through a global pandemic. Please let that sentence sink in. Most of us have been so busy reacting to all that this change has required for our businesses that we haven’t had a moment to fully acknowledge and process all that it has meant for us, personally.
Please give yourself that moment now.
There is a sound business reason for doing this: you are the instrument of leadership and in order to be great for your people, you must be able to sustain yourself for the long haul of change that is ahead.
Please know that you (along with the rest of us) are on a very identifiable roadmap of dealing with change. It is a road you have traveled in your life before and you are simply living through another iteration, only this time, perhaps, at lightning speed.
This process starts with shock and denial, morphs into anger, blame, and frustration, and is followed by a deep dive into depression, confusion, low energy, and sagging morale. Eventually, it evolves into acceptance and, ideally, renewed energy, innovation, and the creation of a pretty great new normal.
Simply remembering that there is an identifiable roadmap for coming to terms with change can be helpful. You are on the road to thriving in the new normal, although maybe not in such a great feeling place right now. Having an opportunity to verbalize where you are in the process (“I am angry, depressed, and feel like giving up”) and feeling seen, heard, and accepted at that stage is healing and can often be enough to move you to the next stage.
It really is okay to not be okay during a global pandemic.
For this moment, please allow yourself to be where you are. Name it for yourself. Write it down and look at it. Allow it. If you can, find someone you trust and love and share what is real for you today. Voice it fully.
Once you have done this for yourself, consider the value of giving your team members the same opportunity.
Write down the stages of change and ask them where they are today (not yesterday and not tomorrow, just today). Together, acknowledge where everyone on the team is and let them know that they are okay wherever they happen to be.
In a week’s time, notice what results.
For inspiration, watch This is Water.
For further reading, consider Carl Roger’s A Way of Being.
Susanne Biro is a coach to C-suite and executive level leaders. She is the founder of The Inner Life Leadership Academy, a year-long program for executive level business leaders who want to reach an unprecedented level of personal understanding and corresponding leadership mastery. Susanne is an author, program designer, facilitator, Forbes & CEO Magazine contributing writer, TEDx and keynote speaker.
For two decades, Susanne has worked internationally with senior-level leaders in some of the world’s best companies. Whether coaching one-on-one or authoring, designing, and delivering leadership programs, her passion is the same: to help leaders reach their next level of personal, professional, and leadership mastery.
Susanne can be reached at 604.864.5408 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our world has changed, rapidly and in unexpected ways. As the crisis hit, I offered and held pro bono sessions with leaders from around the world. And I want to continue to do what I can to help. As a result, I now offer hourly sessions to ensure leaders everywhere can quickly get the perspective, clarity and focus they need to lead themselves, and therefore others, well during these challenging and uncertain times.