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Healthy Leadership: Managing Through Crisis
COVID-19 has changed our world seemingly overnight in ways we could not have anticipated. While there is no roadmap or playbook for managing through this unprecedented crisis, it is times like these that provide leaders with the opportunity to show up as the best version of themselves. However, healthy leadership requires a dedicated focus on honoring one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Healthy Leadership Defined
A healthy leader is someone who is in an optimal state of functioning. Although this may be different for everyone, I’ve provided some considerations below to help you prioritize your needs.
- Focus on what is within your control. Unlike the current situation, our attitudes and beliefs are fully within our control. We can choose to remain positive and solution-oriented, letting go of any “why is this happening” or victim-thinking. We can diligently continue following public health experts' guidance rather than being upset or angry with those who do not. We can intentionally limit our social media and news intake instead of consuming information in small increments from reliable sources. Finally, we can choose to believe that these difficult days won’t last forever and take solace in knowing better days are on their way. By identifying what is within your sphere of control and letting go of anything that is not, you are less likely to become overwhelmed when your team needs you.
- Ensure physical well-being. Now more than ever, we each must be responsible for our physical health. Schedule a regular workout or activity at home, even if it is as simple as going out for a 10-minute walk several times a day. If you find yourself in a remote work environment, take calls outside. Breathe in the fresh air and let the sunshine warm your face. Get an appropriate amount of sleep so your body can rest and rejuvenate. Drink plenty of water and ensure you are making good food choices to fill your body with the right nutrition. This is a time to treat your body with kindness, so you can show up refreshed and ready to face each day’s challenges head-on.
- Embrace your emotions. No one could have anticipated this turn of events or the effect it would have on our daily lives, and each of us is experiencing a gamut of emotions as a result. There is no right or wrong when it comes to these feelings. Instead of masking or disregarding your guttural reactions, honor what may come up by acknowledging and validating each feeling. Only by embracing and processing your emotions can you then challenge yourself to look at things through a more positive lens and, in turn, encourage your team to do the same.
- Honor your spiritual needs. Spiritual needs may be met in a variety of ways; it all depends on what fuels you and fills your tank. While some of your hobbies may not be feasible at this time, try to find things to do at home or in nature that help center you, such as learning how to cook or trying a new recipe, going for a hike, or spending quality time with your immediate family. Many people find a mindfulness exercise or meditation especially helpful to center energy, calm the mind, and prepare for another day. Regardless of what you choose, honoring your spirit by taking a break to be present will better equip you to remain level-headed when stressors arise.
- Practice gratitude. Crisis creates the opportunity to take stock of the gifts we have and express gratitude. Each of us can find one thing each day we are grateful for, whether it's remaining healthy, spending more time with family, working from a safe space, having friends who check on us, or possessing another gift we may take for granted. Whatever it is for you, becoming more consciously aware and expressing gratitude is a wonderful way to boost your spirits — and the spirits of others — during this difficult time.
Put Your Own Mask on First
In times of crisis, it is your responsibility to show up as a leader for your team; the best way to do this is to ensure your own well-being before helping others. Follow the example being set by the doctors and nurses on the front line of this pandemic by putting on your own mask first. Do not forget to make self-care a priority and find time for the things that nurture your spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s the gift you need to bestow upon yourself to show up as a healthy leader each day, and one that everyone on your team will ultimately benefit from.