What does this mean for leadership and what can you do about it?
Recent times have been significantly tough for most and we still have challenges to overcome. Apart from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on our loved ones, organisations and leaders across the world are dealing with the ramifications every day. Fear has infiltrated the system and our day to day beliefs are impacted by a seemingly ever-increasing amount of uncertainty, loss, and loneliness. Given the depth and breadth of it, fear has become a pandemic. Never have we 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. ‘Power of Love Leadership® is emotional intelligence, resilience and leadership model, which leaders have been using successfully for many years.
In my book ‘Power of Love Leadership® – 7 proven strategies to drive success, maximise results and inspire compassion and trust’, you will find a whole chapter on fear and how it impacts your success at work.
Fear is your natural human instinct, to protect you from perceived danger and to prolong the survival of the human species. However, 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, we have the opportunity to mitigate any negative affects of fear – with love. This can be shown through humility, compassion, enthusiasm, hope, forgiveness, gratitude and learning. These are the 7 Power of Love Leadership® strategies that can be used with yourself and others to develop your leadership and team to become more successful, increasing productivity, engagement, focus, creativity and resilience.
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.
You have the power of choice in how you behave. Your thoughts will be the driver of your feelings, which will drive your behaviours. 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 working remotely as 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 every day 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 every day. 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’.
“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.
Choose what you think, feel and do, based upon love, not fear.