Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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Dealing with the COVID-19 situation

I have written a short article on leadership or employee engagement every week for many years. This week I was tempted not to. There is a crisis going on that demands our attention as leaders. Should I be taking the time to write this? Should you be taking the time to read this?

My answer was yes; we should all be acting as leaders right now. We should be taking the time to get the best information possible and to think about how to act in a way that is socially and fiscally responsible.

Here are some thoughts that are guiding me, and my leadership, daily right now:

  • It is not business as usual. I need to let go of the idea that things will go back to normal anytime soon and put my primary focus on the current situation, not acting like the current situation is interrupting me. The more senior your leadership position, the more this is true for you also.
  • People need to know I am listening. I need to take the time to talk with people one on one and hear them out, especially when I see stress or frustration. This shows I care and gives me more perspective with which to make better decisions.
  • I need to make decisions based on facts and best advice. I need to stay abreast of the bigger picture and listen to the most current and relevant information as it applies to my local situation.  I need to be careful about advice from uninformed sources and from places where the situation is not the same as I am facing.
  • I need to remember how different people are.  Some people are going to react aggressively to the situation, wanting extreme measures immediately; some are going to underreact and want to maintain the status quo. Either could be right at any time but most likely neither is right. Both need to be listened to, but facts need to guide us in the response. Making nobody happy is okay.
  • It is not a time for ego. I need to focus on doing the right thing – apologizing for a mistake or misunderstanding, taking a critique, and correcting course – and continuing to do so as the next right thing becomes apparent. It is not the time to become trapped inside the leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want.
  • I need to stay close to my team, communicating and sharing everything I can.
  • I need to make sure decisions are made in a timely fashion.
  • I feel uncertain about where the next weeks and month will take us, but I have learned over the years that despite uncertain circumstances, there are patterns of thought and actions that work better than others and will see us through. This is a serious situation that demands my attention, I need to listen, be empathic, stay informed, stay self-aware, and make the best decisions possible and repeat until this thing is over. And it will be over.

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