C-Suite Advisory

Why resilience is vital to get us through COVID

The current global pandemic has taken any sense of normality in our lives. Any planning or structured recovery we usually rely on has been torn away and stomped on it until it is almost unrecognisable. This COVID-19 world demands resilience from its leaders whether political, corporate, community, household or small businesses. During any time of significant uncertainty such as war, economic upheaval or a global pandemic, people look to their leaders for direction, information and clarity.

It is like you set sail to your exciting new business destination detailed in the strategic plan, but now your yacht, HMSS Normal, has sunk and most of your crew are safely in the lifeboat. However, with no land in sight there is growing despair you may never reach solid ground again. In the early days as captain you remain positive, but as more and more ships pass by without seeing you, hopelessness can become one of the greatest threats to everyone’s survival. History shows that regardless of the apparent hopelessness of the situation, the more resilient the leader, the greater the likelihood of their team’s survival and future success.

All the certainties we had built our lives around have been disrupted and we are now struggling to land on our new normal. People are losing jobs, whole industries such as tourism are being forced into hibernation, economies are faltering, businesses are failing, and mental health issues are spreading faster than the virus.

Right now, people are struggling to land on their new normal and leaders, regardless of their field, are looking for a sense of clear direction from which they can rebuild. Scientists are working feverishly to understand the virus and with each new discovery we as leaders are being provided insights and road signs that hopefully reveal the path to our new normal. While they nobly unravel the COVID-19 puzzle, these clues are like the passing ships that don’t rescue us leaving us adrift. All leaders are battling with the unpredictability of the virus as fresh clusters pop up and the government reacts with new restrictions, often impacting businesses, just as we felt we were returning to some semblance of normal.

When I watch the criticism being directed at our political leaders by the public at large, I reflect on how the critics in their quest for answers and normality, fail to acknowledge that leaders are human as well. As leaders we may be experiencing similar fears, the same uncertainty, and the same impacts. Afterall, we are all in the same boat.

Here are six things you can do to strengthen your resilience

  1. Stuff happens.
    Accept the things out of your control (doesn’t mean you have to like them) and instead focus on the things you can control and leverage them where you can.
  2. Don’t give up.
    If you give up then so will your team probably, so make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals and keep reminding your team of where you are all heading. Keep chipping away at surviving until you see the break and then go for it.
  3. This too shall pass.
    Throughout our careers we will experience great times and bad times. Life’s ebbs and flows should be kept in context so we don’t lose ourselves in the depths of despair or operate like the good times will last forever.
  4. Call BS on your internal fake news.
    Everyone has their crap and in times of high stress like now our minds will amplify them. Negative thoughts, self-doubt, escalating fears of failure are all likely to be the tools our minds use to try to convince us to avoid moving forward into the unknown. However, resilience is about getting back up when you get knocked down and trying again and again until you uncover the break.
  5. Avoid the zombie, remain human.
    Compassionate leadership and strong leadership can and must co-exist in dealing with staff. Regardless of how bad the news is people prefer to receive it from someone they can relate to.
  6. Look after yourself mentally and physically.
    The best way to manage stress is to maintain our fitness. Remain active and allow yourself recovery times when needed.

When we signed up to be a leader, we knew the role would involve leading through good times and bad. However, no one could have foreseen the extent COVID-19 has impacted us. This is where your leadership qualities and your resilience are required so that we reach the new world ready to take advantage of the opportunities this transformational change has created.

Commentary by Gary Waldon. Here’s what you’ve missed?
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Gary Waldon
Gary Waldon is the author of Sort Your Sh!t Out (Do Good Sh!t Publishing $29.95). He is a business transformation consultant who works with people at all levels from CEOs, business leaders and professional athletes through to teachers and retirees to help them take back control of the things that matter to them. Gary Waldon is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.