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We have 2 pandemics…one of them is FEAR! 4 Leadership tips to overcome it…

First, a confession: I haven’t written a blog since 2015.

 

Second, a reflection: I’m not a ‘bloggy’ person.

 

Third, a realisation: I have a lot of expertise to share.

 

My mission is to support leaders and teams everywhere – to be the best they can be… so here goes the first of a few blogs to help achieve that.

 

Fear…

 

The last week has been significantly tough for everyone and we still have challenges to overcome. As leaders, the biggest issue we are all dealing with apart from the unprecedented impacts of the virus itself is fear. In fact, given the depth and breadth of it, fear has become a pandemic in itself.

 

 

Fear of not having enough food and toilet roll (!); fear of not having a job or not knowing if you’ll have one; fear of our loved ones being on the front line of support, medicine or supply; fear of whether you will be able to sustain your business; fear of how we will cope; fear of not having enough money; fear of pension, investment, financial markets and economic instability; fear of losing our homes; fear of not being able to pay our staff; fear of not being to get a job; fear of being alone and isolated, being lonely and cut off from others; fear of becoming ill; fear of dying; fear of our loved ones dying; fear of charities providing much needed support and increased demand not being able to survive; fear of how we will be still be able to achieve success in our work; fear of how we’re going to be able to continue to work from home; fear of how we’ll all get on with each other in the same space for an unknown length of time; fear of not being a good enough leader; fear of my own fear; fear of other’s fear; fear of not being able to go to school, college or university and what that will mean for exams and qualifications; fear of our loved ones being able to get their medication; fear of failure; fear of vulnerability; fear of change; fear of not being good enough and fear of the unknown.

 

There will be many more examples. Never has our generation experienced this level of fear in every person, across all generations, in all countries and simultaneously feeling it and sharing it in unison.

 

 

With 25 years of corporate and leadership expertise, since setting up my own executive coaching and leadership consulting business in 2011, I have been researching the effect of two opposing forces: Love and Fear and how these impact the way we lead ourselves and lead others. Specifically, how our emotions based upon fear and love impact our leadership and therefore our personal and business success. I have created an emotional intelligence model called the ‘Power of Love Leadership’ which my clients have been using successfully for the last 8 years. My book of the same name will be published in October 2020.

 

Having recently completed the chapter in my book about fear and how it impacts your success at work, I can see how fear has been and continues to infiltrate every response to the Coronavirus/Covid19. Fear is your natural human instinct, to protect you from perceived danger and to prolong the survival of the human species. In fact, all of us have a part of our brains which does just that. The amygdala exists within your brain to immediately respond to threat and it kicks in within milliseconds. This works well when you need to avoid or attack (flight or fight) something which might endanger you, but more often than not, the amygdala is hijacked and you respond irrationally or too quickly without having thought it through or fully evaluated the appropriateness of your response.

 

 

This is the underlying reason for the panic, the anger, the worry, the avoidance, the guilt, the sadness, the frustration and the resentment. As leaders we feel these things within the workplace too (physical, remote and virtual). You and your teams are likely to be experiencing these emotions even more at this time, in the months to come and beyond.

 

As natural as it is to feel fear and the emotions that come from it, it will only be helpful in some circumstances. Our fears are often misguided and we behave in ways which are not going to be the most helpful for us or the people we work with. Amongst this pandemic of fear however, there is a lot of love. Fortunately, there are many examples of people, leaders and organisations showing kindness, gratitude, honesty, humility and forgiveness, hope and enthusiasm for helping others.

 

We must recognise the need for love as the source of our behaviours even more now. Fear has the potential to get in the way of us all being at our best and to get the best results. Love based leadership strategies are the antidote to any element of fear that exists within your leadership and business.

 

Now, in a time of uncertainty and daily challenges to everything you and teams have known, how can you work on being the best you can be – everyday?

 

My message for this blog is that you always have the power of choice in how you behave. Your thoughts will be the driver of your feelings, which will drive your behaviours. As a leader your fear – based behaviour will feel instinctive and uncontrollable, but all of your behaviours are controllable. Your behaviours and the way you communicate will set the tone for how everyone else feels and acts around you. This is even more significant, when we are working increasingly remotely and there is an increased risk of misunderstanding, mistrust and demotivation.

 

My leadership tips are:

 

# 1: Self Awareness:

Start to become more aware of your feelings, in any moment. Don’t shut them down unnecessarily. Your emotions are part of you, so listen to them. Own them. Recognise what they are and where they may be coming from. Reassure yourself, they are natural and normal, but then evaluate whether they are being helpful or unhelpful. If they are unhelpful, think about what would be helpful instead. As a leader, you can listen to others to. Recognise when they might need to recognise their own feelings too and ask them what they might need to do that would be more helpful for them. Make time everyday to evaluate your well-being and that of your team. Be patient and forgive yourself and others, because we can all have moments and we all have good intentions. Don’t be in fear or your own or other’s fears. Learn how to observe the fear based feelings as messages. The trick is to recognise that they are important and that they’re telling us something.

 

# 2: Embrace your vulnerability:

It is natural to want to be strong for yourself, for others around you and your teams. The critical thing is however, you can only keep that up for so long. Ultimately, your emotions that you hide away from yourself and everyone else, will leak out in different ways over time or come out in a burst. Be honest about your strengths but also your vulnerability. Speak about how you feel to others. Then show them a great example of what you are doing about feeling that way. Perhaps, you are finding it helpful to talk to them or to talk openly about your fears to someone you trust. Perhaps you have developed a plan for how you want things to work and you are sharing this regularly, to keep you and the team going. Whatever it is, share what you are doing and why it is important to you. Your humility and openness, will build trust and confidence. This is a critical part of leading others, especially through challenging times.

 

# 3: Practice mindfulness every day:

To retain your calm, control and clarity make some time for mindfulness everyday. Help your team to do this too. You could even set up a virtual joint mindfulness meeting. If you think your too busy, they can only take a few minutes, but the focus, productivity and creativity of you and your team will improve. If you search for mindfulness exercises online, you will find many sources and there are really great free apps too like Headspace and Calm. The most simple practice even without an app, is to close your eyes and just focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Let go of other thoughts temporarily, as if you were an observer of them rather than in the middle of them. Realise that you have the power to keep looking for things you can influence and focus on the things you can control, rather than lingering on the things you can’t. You also have the power to find clarity and take action, rather than avoiding, procrastinating or taking on unnecessary pressure.

 

# 4: You are amazing – you can and will adapt:

As a leader and someone who influences others you are stronger than you realise. You can handle whatever comes to you. You have been through challenges before and come out the other side. Even if you feel your resilience is lower than normal, it is there and you just need to keep adapting until it starts to feel stronger again. Look for opportunities to adapt and to see this as a positive thing. The way we worked and what we had may come back, but we haven’t got it at the moment and we therefore need to focus on what we can do right now, to give us the best chance of things getting back to a ‘new normal’.

 

 

 

When I was in my last employed role as corporate HR Director, we did 35 acquisitions in 5 years, followed by successive restructures and redundancies to streamline the business. I used to have these words on the wall behind my desk, which kept me going through consistent change and challenge. This is often referred to as a Charles Darwin quote:

 

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent…It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works cooperatively against common threats

 

 

Think of this everyday and remind those around you to keep them going. Learning from new experiences and focussing on how you can adapt is a positive and encouraging force. Fear will be there – always, if you choose to focus on it. Recognise your own and others’ fears and decide that you have the power to choose how you respond. You can and you will find a way to continually adapt, because that is how you will survive and achieve future success, whatever that is for you.

 

Let’s connect and keep in touch:

 

I plan to write more blogs about the way in which fear and love impact us and how to have more successful outcomes in leadership and business. My book will explain how you can understand fear in yourself as a leader and in your business and how to use the 7 love based strategies to get better outcomes. As this won’t come out until later this year, I would like like to share more of these examples and how they can eradicate unhelpful fear based behaviours in your leaders and your teams over the coming months. I am sharing my expertise and adapting to be more ‘bloggy’ in the hope that you will find these helpful.

 

If you would like to find out more hints and tips for yourself as a leader or for your teams, connect with me / message me on LinkedIn, email me or give me a call. I am happy to help and share my thoughts in whatever way I can.

 

Also, please share your thoughts – In what way has fear impacted you this week?  How have you seen it in others? What have you or others done to adapt from the choice of love, not fear?

 

Stay well, keep safe and remember…

 

Choose what you think, feel and do, based upon love, not fear.

 

sarah@corporatecoaching-sh.co.uk

07748 657715