Gayle's Insights

Calming Anxiety: Leadership Advice for Times of Disruption

By Gayle Lantz

The destruction of the hurricanes has been unimaginable. It’s hard to know exactly what to say or do to help people cope. Sensitivities are high.

It’s likely that you, your loved ones, employees or clients have been impacted directly or indirectly by recent events.

So your leadership is being tested now more than ever.

On one hand, you’re expected to be the practical voice of reason guiding people to take needed actions to keep the business moving forward. On the other hand, people need compassion.

You can offer both practical perspective and compassionate support.

Some tips:

  • Acknowledge their concerns. People need to know they are seen and heard. Simply listen without judging or minimizing their concerns.
  • Remind them that they will be able to move through any difficulty. Show your belief in their ability to handle whatever obstacles they encounter. Assure them that they will figure things out one step at a time.
  • Let them know that they are not alone. They need words of encouragement that show your company’s collective commitment and support. Statements like: “We’re going to get through this.” Or “We’re all in this together.”

In short, the message is something like:
“I hear you. You’ve got this. We’re here.”

Don’t worry about saying the perfect words. Lead from your heart.

A few other reminders:

Stay positive.
One of the greatest challenges you have as a leader in disruptive times is to stay positive. People are hardwired to go negative. You’ll need to work on your leadership mindset as much as the business. Employees feed off of your energy.

Keep your communication open.

Let employees know what you’re planning to do as you figure things out. In the absence of communication, people jump to their own conclusions, or worse, they start stirring things up in the office on their own.

Ask for help when you need it.

Reach out to friends, colleagues, family as needed. It’s not a sign of weakness. It shows you care enough about doing whatever it takes to strengthen yourself and get the business results you want.

In business and life, disruptions happen. Some storms you can prepare for. Some happen unexpectedly.

Most are not weather related. For example, a storm happens when you suddenly lose a few employees at the same time. It happens when you discover large amounts of money have disappeared. It happens when your company suffers negative publicity.

Some storms occur in your own mind without any real evidence. You’ve simply been thinking too much, creating stories in your head or ruminating about an issue you need to release. They make you lose sleep or they take a toll on your health.

Thankfully storms pass. They are a natural part of your life and leadership journey as you sail to your destination.

This is your opportunity to be a source of hope and inspiration to others by showing compassion, vulnerability and determination to persevere.

It’s leadership at its best.

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About the author (Gayle Lantz)

Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their business and themselves..
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