Not since 9/11 have I felt like to do right now. Unsure and yes, a little shaken. The Novel Corona Virus is the ultimate challenge in uncertainty. No one knows how long we will be required to stay at home, who will be infected or the long term implications of the disease. Since this virus is new, we don’t even have studies to fall back on for information. I know one thing to be true—we are all going to be impacted one way or another.
As a business leader, I am concerned for my work family and for all of those who are now faced with sudden and unexpected unemployment, loss of income or even falling ill. Right now, it’s a 24/7 worry. If you’re an entrepreneur, how are you communicating with your team right now? Are you fostering fear or hope? I know these are uncharted waters. We haven’t seen a global pandemic in our lifetime, and I hope we never do again. But once we lower the curve, and we will, life will continue on. Maybe not the same as it had been before but onward we will go.
During times of crisis, a leader’s language should never reflect fear. Why? People don’t want their own fears stirred up during hard times by listening to anxious leaders. They want someone who can help turn their feelings of angst around by using authentic, yet optimistic language. Sometimes fear renders us frozen, unable to make decisions. You may even feel powerless right now. A strong leader will see this as an opportunity to help others by cultivating a sense of safety, community and well being, even if it means supporting your team working from home. Now is not the time to think as you’ve always thought. It’s time to think way outside the box. Because the world has changed. Which means you, as a leader must adapt.
A crisis challenges us to think differently. Yes, looking at data and assessing risk and cost is necessary, but we also have to remember there is a human element involved. This isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s about compassion and empathy that we are all in this together.
And yet, there is something else happening unexpectedly too. Suddenly, and by design, we have been forced to slow down, to get off the treadmill and take some time for ourselves and our families. While we wait to see what will happen, we have a unique opportunity to take a deeper look at our lives, careers, relationships, health, finances and goals. This is a great time to assess company policies including sick leave and remote working strategies. What mental health support will you have in place when your team comes back to work? Showing your tribe you care and have their best interest at heart will surely offer them that comfort and security they need now. We are all going to have time on our hands these next several weeks. I say we use it wisely to strengthen and grow our outlook.