COVID-19 has placed a heavy burden on every soul out there. It is not just the economies suffering and businesses dying. But more so the mankind that is going through the toughest times. It is safe to say that we are feeling helpless to a certain extent and not to mention, anxious.
At these times, being a leader with teams depending on them can be toughest. You are required to be the guiding light for the rest of them and is expected to have the answers. In such uncertain times when employers are struggling to pay salaries and bring in business while the workers are asked to provide their services from home – the entire dynamic of work has been disrupted.
During such times, there are ways any leader can cope up with the situation and still come out strong. With a little self-care, self-awareness, and putting your mental health first can take you a long way.
Take my team lead at KoderLabs for example. He has encouraged us all to indulge in open and transparent communication. This way, we all know where we stand at any given moment.
So first things first:
1) You are Allowed to Struggle
Yes, as a team lead or an employer, you are expected to have the toughest and collected exterior. However, you are only human and with everyone struggling more than ever during this pandemic, it is absolutely okay for you to feel weak.
Often times, as leaders, we are so caught up with our team members depending on our leadership and guidance that we place our well-being on hold. This, unfortunately, isn’t an act of sacrifice but is downright unhealthy.
So, take your struggle as an opportunity to connect with your team on an emotional level and share your blockages if you can. Trust me, they will not see you as weak but would be humbled and don’t feel alone. So, accept that your struggle is valid and that you do not have to shoulder the burden of your team when everyone is feeling challenged globally.
2) Communicate Your Struggles with Team Members
As we discussed above. Communicating your struggles with your team will help increase the understanding. This will also help them see you in a new light and who knows, maybe your opening up will help them to confide in your as well.
Not only this transparency will help you strengthen the bond with each other but also streamline the workload in a more learned manner – in a manner where everyone’s capacity and state of mind is taken into consideration.
3) Make Sure Your Team Members Are Okay
You need to understand that for many people, coming to the office was more like a therapy than a chore that they must fulfil to keep money in their pockets. Now, with everyone in their homes and trying to balance work and family – this is the time to be extra mindful of their needs. Do they need flexibility in work hours because of their kids? Or are they going through anxiety and depression that is leading them to avoid one-on-one work calls? Are they struggling financially and need help?
As a leader, it is important you shift the mindset towards a personal approach as COVID has placed everyone in vulnerable situations. This can include giving your team members a breather when dealing with strict deadlines, to you turning a blind eye over the slouching performance of a few.
Trust me, the ones that are truly struggling would be more than grateful for your effective and empathetic leadership in such trying times.
4) Avoid Negative News as Much as You Can
This is a no-brainer. I am doing this myself these days. With so many COVID deaths and third-world countries suffering tremendously, not to mention the other humanitarian crisis that the world is in – it can be extremely overwhelming emotionally. We all want a virus-free, peaceful, and loving world. However, since that is not the situation – it is best to avoid the news until you feel recovered.
We do not realize that often times we are projecting how we are feeling on the inside onto others in the form of poor behavior. As a leader, you are responsible in setting the tone of your team. Now, with COVID and work from home, it is even more crucial that you are in the best position to lead, maneuver, and guide.
If the leader is pre-occupied with the burdens of the world, it is bound to make you unproductive and depressed. So, focus on your mental health and consume less of such content online and otherwise.
5) Stay Transparent about Company’s Situation
Who knew there would be a time where a virus would determine whether the company would survive or not. With so many people being laid off and mega businesses closing their franchises around the world, the present and near future looks bleak. Every employee that has their job secured for now is constantly worrying about the sudden news of being laid off.
Unfortunately, the anxiety gets worse as their great performance record won’t matter. If they company is taking a loss and they are in it, it will happen regardless.
This is where you and your honest communication as a leader plays a huge role. You need to help the team overcome their fears of being fired or let go during this time. However, this doesn’t mean that you start lying to them. It simply means that you convey the developments company is making; no matter how small.
This also means that if the company is on rough waters, then you also communicate the situation as is. So, they can prep themselves for the inevitable. What not to do, would be to hide the progress or shake-ups. If the company is doing better, they would feel relieved. If they company is heading towards an ice-cap, then they can best prepare to find employment elsewhere.
Yes, as a leader, you can feel burdened by keeping things from your team and it can get heavy on your conscience. Hence, the best way to cope is by being honest and open.
I think if I could sum up the entire situation for a leader in one word, it would be – Communication. Up front, honest, and raw communication with your peers and team members will help you survive better during such harsh times. So, good luck!