Leadership during a crisis can be challenging. Boxing could be a more apt metaphor. You never know which side the next blow is coming from, and the opponent never tires!
With the unprecedented events and changes taking place almost simultaneously, managing all of these is the Ironman test of leadership.
Mistakes are inevitable, but we must not think that failures of leadership are the only thing that can come out of this situation. There are many opportunities for decisive action and honest communication that comes with it. If you can rise to the occasion, you will establish your core values as a leader.
3 Tips to Survive and Thrive
I’ve talked to leaders who have been praised for what they’ve done for their people. And this is what I’ve gathered on how you too can survive and thrive as a leader during a crisis:
Ann, a CIO with a rather transactional style of communication, rose to the need of the hour, putting people & touching base with them first. She trained to stretch outside her comfort zone, shares helpful info & goes beyond just asking for status updates.
Sunil, a VP in a Pharma company, keeps people in the loop with updates & snubs the grapevine talk, letting them know he’s open for questions.
Michelle, VP-Ops in a leading consumer goods co., cannot stress enough the importance of taking a step back from the chaos. When she’s not in the middle of it all, her mind gains the calm & clarity for solutions to emerge. It’s self-care and other-care at its best.
I believe that a crisis poses an opportunity to rediscover your core values. And this COVID crisis has been extraordinarily challenging. It’s an opportunity to find clarity and help you develop unshakeable confidence to overcome any future scenario.
Do you acknowledge that there is a great opportunity for you to discover your personal power in these trying times? Leverage the situation to develop yourself into the whole spectrum of leadership capabilities: strategically, psychologically & spiritually. Schedule a coaching session with me today and find out how.
Winter of 2016. I looked past my desk & towards the window. The sun was setting against a crimson sky. A rare sight..who has time for that on a busy Monday!?
My eyes rested on a flock of pigeons flying merrily. Bloody pigeons! Freedom to fly anywhere at any time. And me… stuck to my excel sheets.
I was jealous of “pigeons”!?
Later that evening it dawned upon me, their freedom irked me. I was chained to my excel sheets, chained to my work, chained to the mundane. I needed to find my freedom.
Have you ever felt that?
For a while, I raved & ranted about it, my jealousy getting greener. One day, I realized that it was my own doing – I could choose a better way of living, even be part of the pigeons’ freedom.
I did one simple thing, one that transformed my life for the better. I rejigged my schedule to factor in white spaces to pause, walk into the balcony & breathe in the fresh air, or take a walk around the block. This not just gave me freedom, but got my creative juices flowing, my projects prospered, I prospered.
It’s a ritual I follow to this day. I befriended my pigeons, my freedom – have you?
P.S: I’m sharing one of the most practical #timemanagement tools in the video below. Let me know your thoughts and questions on it.
This article is an extract of the conversation that I had with Karin Wierinck, who is a global HR business leader with close to 30 years of experience in HR. She is a renowned expert in people and organization matters including successful reorganizations, talent management, capability building and business or HR transformation. Having worked with countries such as Brazil, India, Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, in Europe and the USA she is keenly familiar with crisis management and the challenges and opportunities of remote working.
It was a pleasure to have her talk to our live audience in a session about Leadership in Crisis and Managing Work Remotely.
Karin, I see you have a lot of experience leading through crisis. Can you please share a couple of personal stories about leading through crises?
Karin: As you already said I have close to 30 years in the field of HR. One story dates back to 1996 and the Upjohn company had just merged with Pharmacia. As a result, the international operations in Belgium were closing down and moving to Milano. I had to let go of many talented employees, and some were being asked to relocate. I was late twenties and one of the people impacted was ‘Mark’. Mark was in his late fifties and he was offered either termination or an early retirement package. He was not offered relocation to Italy. I had studied the package options and thought both were absolutely great! What I had not anticipated was that Mark would react very emotionally and totally unhappy, disgruntled. Mark wanted to receive also a relocation offer. He may not have actually relocated but the relocation offer for him was ‘proof’ of his value to the company. I learned a valuable lesson of EMPATHY that is also very relevant in these corona times. Don’t assume. Don’t project or enforce your views. Ask questions. Be human. And walk in the shoes of the other person. Anticipate the other person’s feelings, emotion and pain.
My second story is a more recent one. I had just taken on a new role in an organization in ‘depression’ that had undergone significant and repeated downsizing and cost savings and was feeling let down by senior management. Trust was at an all-time low. I entered with my usual mindset of wanting to assess the situation and look for opportunities to fix or solve. That also entails looking for improvement and in my normal transparent way of operating, I gave lots of constructive feedback. The challenge with this approach is that I entered the organization and trust was non-existent. I, as a senior management representative – was looked at suspiciously and if I came with a hidden agenda. I learned the importance of building trust fast and that generosity and not judging or not appear to be judging are critical to BUILD TRUST FAST. Encouragement, praise and recognition, as well as only listening and asking lots of questions would have taken me much further faster.
Tell us Karin, how can we apply the lessons from these stories to what we are experiencing right now, as we go through the COVID lockdown and the subsequent crisis?
Karin: My 2 keywords from the stories are empathy and trust.
It is always important to build trust “fast” whether it is in person or virtually and whatever the circumstance. When struggling with a situation, I like to find frameworks that’ll help me get back on track at the earliest. I have done a fair amount of research on the topic of trust and here’s a framework that I like a lot and would like to share:
Build trust by BRAVING: it’s an acronym. B for setting boundaries. Even while being generous, not everything is allowed. Set boundaries, what are the ‘no-gos’? R for Reliability. Keep your promises. A stands for Accountability. You assume accountability and hold the other accountable as well. V stands for VAULT, because you will keep things that are shared in confidence in the vault, i.e., confidentially. I stands for Integrity. N for non-judging and G for generosity. You already heard me take about these in my stories above.
B oundaries / R eliability / A ccountability / V ault / I ntegrity / N on-judging and G enerosity.
Coming back to empathy that you mentioned before in this conversation. What is that in your personal definition, Karin, and how can one apply that in today’s context?
From my story, I guess one could sense that I associate empathy with walking in the other’s shoes and deeply relating to the other person’s feelings or pain. Empathy these days also means knowing and understanding each other’s circumstances and acting accordingly.
Someone who is single – or someone with a partner and small kids will have different needs today. For e.g., a friend of mine has agreed that her husband will work in the mornings and she will work in the afternoons. That is what they have agreed amongst themselves as a couple and what she has communicated (as her availability) with her manager and her team.
AGREEING clearly. Agree on a good time to connect with your team.
Stick to the agreements and schedule. Create a regular cadence.
When there is so much uncertainty, it pays to have structure and routine – so as not to introduce unnecessary chaos.
You may need to be on the lookout for people feeling more stressed. Talk about these feelings and discuss what you can do support or help.
This support can take different shapes and forms, for instance,
Ask what would be most helpful
Don’t aim for perfection, 80% is good enough
Offer support from a partner/buddy
Discuss the future/vision/purpose in the new context
How can a manager and leader keep people accountable without micromanaging?
Start with defining what success looks like. At this moment in time, it is worthwhile to stop and assess if what was defined as success a few months ago is still valid. If not, redefine.
I would describe success in terms of what needs to be accomplished. What is the desired outcome? Years ago we introduced 4S to our sales managers as a coaching tool to help the sales reps think through their work. This could be helpful now as well. 4s stands for S = Success, S = situation, S = source / hurdles and S = steps to undertake.
As a manager you help define the desired outcome but you leave a lot of freedom to the individual how they will reach that. You agree on being kept informed of progress – when and how. You touch base if the person needs any support and you help remove hurdles. Recognition and encouragement, praise are greater motivators than constructive criticism.
How can leaders best manage mid-year evaluations remotely?
First and foremost, if you did not look at relavance of previously established goals, then this is something that should be done ASAP.
Today many companies are changing from traditional performance management with predetermined sequences to a more fluid approach of many shorter conversations.
Regardless of the approach you operate with, I would say that it is critical to have:
Keep an open mind – to share and compare views and adjust
Review the past vs. the future -‘post-mortem approach’ where you evaluate how something went and extract the lessons learned
Have transparency and clarity
Collect feedback from multiple sources
Good performance management is when you manage to a ‘no-surprises’ situation. You are on the same wavelength. Hopefully, you would have had lots of open conversation in the course of the year, through your 1-1 and informal sessions, with sufficient feedback.
How about hiring/extending team in this period? Is it recommended to do the hiring process remotely? Any tips?
From a financial/economic perspective, it is worthwhile asking if that position is a critical one to fill now. If you decide to proceed, examine if the mandate of the position is still the same. What is the impact this position is to bring? What are the projects and the outcomes to pursue? Has it changed? If so, you need to update the job spec. Also, keep in mind that a job specification is better expressed from an outcome perspective than from a task perspective!
It is very common to do the first rounds of the hiring process virtually. There are many tools – Webex, zoom, even Whatsapp or Facetime that you can deploy when interviewing. I would always opt for having ‘a visual input’.
It was not common – up until now – to complete a hiring process without inviting someone to meet with others at the workplace. So, if you proceed, it would make sense to organize an alternative for this experience: a virtual group meeting.
Once you have completed the hiring process and the candidate has accepted, the next question is whether you should have the person start immediately or later. Many companies do opt for delaying, again driven by economic considerations and because onboarding someone in a completely virtual fashion might be challenging.
If you proceed, then doing an exceptional job at onboarding is important. You may ask all stakeholders to introduce the person to the organization and to share not just about what needs to be accomplished but what the best ways of working are, to also share insights about the company culture, the history, the roots. It would also make a lot of sense to assign an onboarding mentor/buddy.
One last question Karin, what’s the most important thing for people to remember from this conversation?
Build Trust fast by BRAVING!
That’s a wrap!I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Karin. If you found this helpful, please share and leave a comment. If you have any questions, you can write to me at email@example.com. Thank you!
Recently, I attended a 10-day Vipassana course where one observes silence for the entire period (no phones, no eye contact, no sign language) while learning this 25-century old meditation technique, said to be preserved in its ancient form as taught by the Buddha.
I had my reservations all along, however, since, in the larger scheme of things, it’s just 10 days of my life to experience something that has been on my bucket list for long, I decided to give it a go. I am absolutely happy I took that decision.
The richness of experience and learning in that environment is not something I can capture in one article. Hence I will share that over the coming weeks, with the intention that it helps you too in your daily life.
My key takeaway – Equanimity
Today, let me talk about one of the key lessons from the course – Equanimity. The state where the mind doesn’t sway between extreme likes (cravings) and extreme dislikes (aversions), where one accepts transience as a constant. A state that when practised enables one to be more at harmony at whatever happens in life.
Woah! I know that sounds like new age bulls**t. But hang in there while I explain with some examples. I’m by no means an expert, but ever since the start of the course I have been giving this (practising equanimity) a fair shot and I have to admit, I see subtle but noticeable changes in and around me, for the better.
We all have wants, needs and desires in life – for it to be a certain way, for people to behave a certain way with us or for us to achieve certain goals. What starts off as a simple wish grows into a strong desire which in many cases becomes a full-fledged craving – probably to obtain a certain career success, a material possession or to have a certain someone be more present in your life. When we are caught in the middle of that craving, we are actually miserable, very often wavering between the extremes of hope and despair, sadness, anger and frustration. We tell ourselves it’s miserable without that certain someone or something. Neither is that a satisfying place to be, nor is it productive (for us to reach those goals).
For many of us, especially those super ambitious go-getts amongst us, that is a recurring scenario. What if there is a middle way which we can follow and still get to our goals? That is the path of equanimity.
Trigger and Reaction – the magic of a pause.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of a cravings-fit, or an aversions-fit (where we simply dislike what’s happening, for example, body pains or an irrationally angry spouse or partner). What if we give ourselves a few seconds between trigger and reaction?
The easiest and most damaging response we can give to someone or experience is a spontaneous reaction. That response comes from a mind in agitation, our own mind. A spontaneous response usually aggravates and multiplies the misery of an unpleasant situation. What if, we start practising taking a pause between trigger and reaction? What if we curiously observe the changes in our body and the biochemical reactions that result in bodily sensations when triggered?
Be a curious scientist.
When something triggers anger in you, you most likely will feel heat and perspiration on your skin, your heartbeat rate go up, etc. Your body is in agitation— when you pause and observe it, you stay present with your body and the emotion you feel, with every passing moment your mind regains calmness, helping you give a more equanimous and productive response thereafter. Notice this is different from suppressing a feeling which isn’t healthy because sooner or later it manifests itself with even greater force, but about staying with the feeling, but not letting it overpower you. You truly are then the master of every moment presented to you.
When it comes to your dreams and desires, check in with yourself. Are there moments where you feel desperate and frustrated at things not going the way you wanted? How about taking a few moments to pause, count your blessings, review the scenario and make the necessary changes? How about releasing the need for instant gratification and allow things to unfold at their natural pace?
I have been taking baby steps and it’s been incredibly helpful. The environments inside my body, home and office have been more harmonious, productive and peaceful.
A gentle encouragement
If this resonated with you, how about you give this a shot too. If you manage to take a pause 1 out of the next 10 times you’re triggered, pat yourself on the back. You have your first win! Over the next 10 such instances, you might pause and provide a more equanimous response 2 out 10 times. The frequency of productive, equanimous responses thus keeps increasing steadily.
I’m curious to know what you think of this article and if you have any questions. Please share your thoughts. Thank you.
There are times in our lives when our projects may not be going so well, our relationships are rocky or we aren’t generating the income we expected to from our business. In those situations, it’s easy to blame the circumstance or another person for why things aren’t working.
In this blog, I will share some powerful reframe that will switch our minds from a victim mentality to an empowered, inspired one.
The cons of complaining and putting the responsibility on external circumstances or people: we take on a victim mentality and things start to seem way out of our control than they actually are. The risk? We stay stuck in situations without achieving our goals (for e.g., finishing the project, enjoying harmonious relationships, generating abundant income), we lose our confidence and we might give up on our goals altogether.
I know for a FACT that we are all powerful creators and are divinely gifted. That is why I want to help you reframe seemingly rocky situations and emerge the winner that you’re born to be.
The pros of doing that? You naturally sense the resources at hand to turn the situation around and achieve what you desire. You feel inspired to take action and the scenario transforms.
Here are 3 steps to help you:
1. Ditch the victim mentality
Do not fall prey to the mindset that you are a victim of circumstances. The victim mentality disempowers you. It makes you focus on those aspects of your life that drag you down. It’s an easy mindset to adopt because it’s rampant in the society and we’re programmed to adopt what’s rampant in the society as “normal” or acceptable. However, you can decide differently. Successful high-performers catch themselves in the act and stop the downward spiraling of thoughts and emotions. Sure, you can’t control the external factors that come at you, but you can control how you react to them.
2. Acknowledge Your Power
Be aware of your own actions and their consequences. Realize that you are responsible for the outcomes in your life – the good and the bad. You have control over the outcome of any situation, and however hard it is, YOU can turn it around. Think of ways on how you can improve your project and its financial outcomes including investing in the right mentors or coaches, assess your relationship with your partner and see what behavioral changes you can adapt to turn it around or seek professional help as needed.
3. Turn Your Failure to Inspiration
Even if you consider something a failure or a mistake, there is the richness of experience, knowledge, and growth in that, which will be the fodder for your next steps.
Do not be ashamed to admit your shortcomings to yourself, do not be ashamed to admit the possibility that you overlooked something that could’ve caused your failure. Acknowledging what didn’t work is, in fact, the first step in a transformative act that will help you determine the necessary course-correction to successfully reach your goals.
How you condition your mind plays a big role in how you achieve your goals. By acknowledging your power, you unlock your potential, and by unlocking your full potential, you draw in success.
⤵️ A sense of hollowness deep inside your heart and/or your gut despite all the achievements which are “perfect” on paper (an envious career, an impressive lifestyle, a family, friends). You sense a hunger to know more than what meets the eye.
⤵️ Disconnection from what your health needs – denying yourself nutritious food on time by forgetting or being too busy, reliance on smoking or alcohol a lot more than you even enjoy.
⤵️ Failing health – the wakeup calls are getting stronger.
⤵️ Being frequently irritated at work and home. Small instances, even pleasant interactions might infuriate you.
⚡ You live in authentic joy that comes from true connection – loving relationships … a career that does justice to your potential, skills values .. a beautiful relationship with your body, caring for yourself comes with ease…
⚡ You are able to enjoy and pursue material successes from a place of gratitude and fulfillment (no more competition, no rat races anymore, but you operate from a place of contribution)
⚡ You are happy from deep within that you are a constant source of joy and inspiration for others. You are able to visualize and manifest the best life for yourself and your loved ones.
⚡ You are inspired to reach for your deepest potential despite any challenge or fears, because you are so in alignment with your true blueprint – your life’s purpose.
⚡ Your body, mind and soul are in such divine alignment that every moment brings joy, calm and fulfillment.
🚨 4 years ago I would’ve turned away at the first instance “life purpose” was mentioned. A few wakeup calls happened in between and in such quick succession – experiences that were hard to live through. I needed something to hold on to, something to believe in, something larger than myself. Walking that hard path I realized that all that I was looking for was within me. My beliefs had to shift for me to survive and I did. My exploration led to own my path and walk on it with courage, which till today I humbly and gratefully do.
🔥 Each of us has a brilliance, a spark of divinity that we are born with. We are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.
🔥 Living in denial – just because society will disapprove or it feels too destabilizing or whatever it is that’s holding you back – sooner or later causes a disconnection from our awareness of ourselves, from what makes us truly happy, from our loved ones, from our values as a human being, from living in physical/mental/spiritual – just like I did until those wakeup calls.
🔥 Living in connection – puts us directly in touch with our gifts, gives us choices to express ourselves in bold, beautiful ways that inspire us and those around us. We are uplifted in the spirit of connection and contribution.
🔥 It is our right, an absolute gift to claim our unique path in life and live it unabashedly.
🔥 Health, happiness and wealth can be delightful side effects
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐠𝐨 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐞’𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞?
To put it succinctly, it’s an exploration that the most committed are gifted to experience. Every step on that journey is a well-earned gift, opening us to our own gifts and brilliance. There is no destination to get to, you quickly realize, because all the fruits are planted along the path.
𝐁𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐲 𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟:
💡 What were those moments from the time I can remember until now that have made you feel the happiest, fulfilled, crying tears of joy and love?
💡 Which qualities and skills of yours do you most enjoy expressing especially in relation to others (teaching someone a new skill, constructing someone’s dream home, writing a book helping teenagers cope with changes, etc.)
💡 Is there a pattern emerging once you carefully consider the first 2 questions that could be an intersection of what lights you up and earn an income from?
Now observe/ask yourself:
☀️How often do you have those experiences and moments in your daily life including career?
☀️If not often enough and if you desire these, what needs to change? Those are the first hints to creating your action plan.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.