Executive Education

COVID-19 Means Leaders Must Work to Become Even More Decent

There has been much written about the Pandemic and its effect on us all. Most recently, mental health pundits are beating the drum about the risks associated with the excessive stress that some feel because of the pandemic. In fact, The Journal of Anxiety Disorders, even gave it a name: COVID Stress Syndrome and developed 5 scales, comprising 36 items, as a means for identifying people in need of pandemic-related mental health services.

The bottom-line for business leaders is that many of our colleagues, whether they show signs of it or not, are truly stressed-out about COVID-19. This fact puts the impetus on us to approach our leadership responsibilities with even more decency and care – setting the example for others to follow.

Here are some things that you can fold into your leadership repertoire to be that living example of decency that will help your people to recognize that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Be There: The number one thing that you can do to heklp our people handle the stress of a COVID-19 ravaged world is to be present. Being present means that you’re there for your people. It means that you ask, listen and strive to understand before deciding and directing. The action of being there goes a long way to helping staffers feel more at ease about the work aspect of their lives. This helps relieve some of the worry that comes with COVID stress.

Be Inclusive: Inclusiveness builds trust and creates community. Staffers don’t feel left out when they’re invited to share opinions and thoughts. Invite everyone on your team to speak-up and share ideas to make your business better. By doing so, you get the value that comes from gaining a broader perspective and you help your people feel a little less alone. Being part of a community helps people handle stress.

Be Thoughtful: As I counsel those whom I coach, resiliency is a whole person proposition – mental, physical, spirit and community. Be sure to remind your team to take time each day to work on all four parts of themselves. Encourage your people to get necessary exercise, eat properly, engage in things they enjoy and be with people (even, if only virtually). These reminders can make a big difference to staffers who may have lost perspective on what’s important.

Be Attending: Ask not what your people can do for you, ask what you can do for your people. Work at becoming a servant leader. Help pave the way for your team to be effective – it reduces stress in the work setting, makes it easier to get things done and it helps staffers believe that someone cares about them and their success.

Be Humble: C.S. Lewis once wrote:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

The best way to be the living example of decency during these troubling times is to maintain your humility as you lead others. No one needs a tyrant right, now. Be good and compassionate to your people and they’ll respond in kind.

Like in any time of crisis, an exceptional leader recognizes what is in their control and, as important, swiftly comes to accept those things that are not controllable. This skill enables a leader to place focus on the things that they can influence, and not waste precious mental energy, time and resources on items that they can’t affect.

Because we must accept the fact that we can’t control what the virus does next, we need to shift our attention to the places where we can have impact, like in the ways that we treat others. Remember, staying positive doesn’t mean that you have to be happy all of the time. It just means that we should behave in ways that remind us that a better day is going to come.


Written by James M. Kerr. Have you read?
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James Kerr
James M. Kerr, founder at Indispensable Consulting, is a long-time management consultant, vision maker and leadership coach. For nearly 30 years, he has helped his clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed. His latest book, Indispensable: Build and Lead A Company Customers Can’t Live Without is his 6th business title. Kerr is an expert in leadership, strategy, organizational design and cultural transformation. James Kerr is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.