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  • Sanjay Mistry

Responses Of Outstanding Leaders During Crisis & Stress

Long after this time has passed, your future self, your team and your organisation will either recognise you as an inspirational leader or someone who just has the title.

Strong leadership skills are needed more than ever in times of uncertainty and crisis, with a large splash of ‘unknown’ being thrown into the mix right now.

Stress is directly linked to a perceived lack of control and the forth coming reactions, the causes of which come in two forms:

1) External – Family, work, school, unforeseen event [Which we have limited ability to control]

2) Internal – Fear, worry, overwhelm, expectations etc [Which we can control our response to].

Signs of stress can reflected in the following four types, many times more than one will be demonstrated: 1) Cognitive, 2) Behavioural, 3) Emotional or 4) Physiological.

Leaders have to be aware that social distancing for our physical health at this time may be beneficial – but it’s probably not good for every other aspect. Many will never have worked from home before, or may have no-one at home to have interaction with. Working remotely and at times in solitude, visible stress signs will be harder to spot.

You’re managing your own stress, and then of those at work (remotely) and even at home – How do outstanding leaders positively respond to stress during time of crisis?

- Realistic Expectations: Set realistic goals, due to a new way of working with reasonable expectations on yourself and others and time to adjust with to these will help.

- Routine: Maintain to a routine, adjusted for working at home with others around but still have structure i.e having a shower, getting changed, going to a certain room to work and not just staying in bed till late or not getting dressed for work.

- Re-framing: Have techniques to respond rather than react, slow things down – consider and assess the best case, the worst case and the realistic case – which will lead to the worst case probability likely to be low.

- Relaxation: Practise relaxation techniques, e.g meditation, time away from screens and social media, exercise to get the feel good chemicals released.

- Discuss the problem: Reach out to others and have a discussion, be aware and constructive of what is happening but also apply the above principles. It will avoid bottling in negative thought or beliefs that do not serve. Outstanding leaders will be there for others and lift those around them, not discriminating. Social support has profound effect on life expectancy, isolation and poor social support are associated with poor stress responses.

- Be a role model: Have the ability to acknowledge the issues and circumstance but are able to know this time will pass, they are greater than their circumstances and can see past it to a brighter future. The optimism that things will be better than they are, not asking for denial, and allowing acknowledge of feelings being felt by themselves which allows others to do the same.

A side note is limiting the amount of news watched, it has a job to do and increasing consumption will negatively impact and heighten stress in many. Setting boundaries on what feeds the mind is key for leaders to be effective.

Great leaders during times of crisis and stress portray the above skills and attitudes, they are contagion (pardon the term) of these beneficial actions and mindset to those around them and cognisant of the bigger picture and impermanence of the current landscape.

There are a host of further tools to manage stress, build resilience in yourself and your team. How leaders invest this time during the crisis will be reflected for many years to come.

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