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More Compassion & Empathy When Leading Teams In a Crisis

As we continue to cope with the unknown, the pressure is on to make the right decisions, stay focused and maintain our personal and professional relationships.  In my last post, I shared advice on the Five Key Actions to Lead your Team in Uncertainty, so to continue the theme, let’s call this post Part 2, where I will share some wisdom on leveraging Compassion and Empathy.

You may be thinking I just need to get things done and hope our business survives during this challenging time. Or you may use the excuse of my team are working remotely now, so why does this matter!

I understand, however as your business now makes critical adjustments, your pressure, emotions and stress levels will increase, and will impact your behaviour and style of communication that could be perceived as an attack or aggression. 

Attacking we can tolerate in times of normality, but right now the mindset for most humans is survival and security due to the current unknown.  

True Compassion and empathy require Courage and Self-awareness.

Why Courage?  the reason is, you now need to show some vulnerability by demonstrating more CARE – this may not be your style of managing or leading people; therefore, it will require coming out of your comfort zone and adjusting old methods and habits.

During my client engagements, I often see managers leading by fear and keeping a safe personal distance from their teams. Typically, it’s often due to the lack of know-how and confidence in their own leadership!  To disguise this weakness, they will not expose themselves and get too close.   So, Courage is about change and that change is you adapting to a new leadership style.

Courage also needs self-awareness – this is going to be the foundations of courage! ….you  being self-critical of your leadership style and maybe getting feedback from your peers and your team.  The feedback I would want, is how am I acting as a leader, how do I sound as a leader and how to I look as a leader……there may be a multitude of performance gaps you need, to confidently behave with compassion and empathy.

To assist you in improving these critical traits, here are a few do’s & don’ts that you may find useful:

  1.  Do Listen Harder– Listening is a skill that requires practice and reflection ….slow down on trying to give advice, as most humans are advice-giving maniacs!  It inflates our own ego of what we know, it highlights our wisdom and our skills. Listen to what is not being said …if your gut feeling and intuition thinks differently to what is being said verbally,  probe and explore a little more, but be sensitive  ….our listening should be like an air traffic controller trying to communicate and land many aircraft in a short period of time.
  • Do Have More One on Ones with Your Team Members– Not to check up on progress, but to explore whether the pandemic is impacting them personally.  There may be struggles at home right now, loss of earnings, job losses, family distancing and the pressures of being stuck at home with the wife or husband and the kids without any personal space (Cabin Fever) – we are not use to this!
  • Don’t Pretend to Know all the Answers. Assumptions are unhealthy in times of uncertainty.  Make sure that you are courageous to say I don’t know the answer, or I need help! There will be conflicting information circulating internally and across the globe – keep it clear, concise and objective.  

In summary, this is a time to really get to know your teams.  I’m sure as businesses react and the pressure is on to get results, you will occasionally feel like you want to snap, shout and get into pointless arguments.  Take your time to pause and think before you communicate and always put yourself in the shoes of others. 

Keep Inspiring – Keep Learning and Keep Healthy – Be safe 

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