Attention all leaders: you need to take care of yourself right now.
We need strong leaders. They help us grow and remove obstacles on our path to success. They do this well because they are confident, resilient and inspiring. But it’s what you don’t see right now that is cause for concern. Leaders are silently struggling with the burden of pandemic-related responsibilities.
Effective leadership is hard enough in non-pandemic times. In fact, Forbes recently estimated leadership development to be a $366 billion industry. Now the pandemic is introducing a whole new layer of complexity on top of the inherent challenges of management. Essential responsibilities such as building trust with teams, communicating, and maintaining expectations have all become several degrees more difficult overnight. How are leaders coping with this? As leaders should – they accept the challenge and push forward. This is how it appears on the surface at least.
The truth, however, is that leaders are struggling today more than ever. While pandemic-related considerations are routinely made for the average employee, expectations have largely stayed the same for leaders. Additionally, self-care has taken a back seat to the never-ending focus on the betterment of a team in crises.
Part of this is self-inflicted — leaders naturally feel the need to appear strong and “do whatever it takes” in these situations. Leadership after all does require a certain degree of grit. But leaders must face these struggles head on in order to avoid burnout or even more deleterious health consequences. It starts with being vulnerable.
The number one thing leaders can do right now is demonstrate authenticity. That means acknowledging that sometimes you don’t know all of the answers. It means demonstrating the need to spend time on self-care that will relieve the stress and anxiety build-up. It will help rebalance the attention paid to the self vs. team. Perhaps most importantly, it will allow employees to breathe a little easier!
Leaders don’t need to be super heroes right now, they just need to be human.
For more discussion and tips on the topic of leadership during a pandemic join me for a webinar next Thursday, October 29th at 12pm ET. Register here.