As a leadership and culture coach, I have been hearing this question every single day. Gallup studied past crises to learn what leaders can do during COVID-I9. Their meta-analytics found four universal needs that teams have:
Before we go any further, let’s reframe the word crisis to change. That one step will help de-escalate the negative power of the word “crisis”. Now, let’s dive into tools that you can start using today to meet the most pressing needs of your team.
First, a graphical refresher on Emotional Intelligence, which is so crucial at this time:
Universal Need 1 – Trust: Manage Your Energy
If you want your team to trust you, you need to be worthy of that trust. This starts with managing your energy. In a previous blog, I go deeper into how emotions have energy and how we need to be present to the energy that we are sending. It’s key to consent (be present to) to our uncomfortable emotional state, then ask what we would like instead (something, of course, that we can create and maintain). Learning to release resistance increases accountability, emotional engagement and productivity. When we are able to do the above – we are able to provide our team a stable environment where chaos can be navigated.
Universal Need 2 – Compassion: Engage Through Honoring Their Humanity
Studies show that workers who feel compassion from their employers are likely to work harder, to the tune of 30% longer on difficult tasks. Compassion leads to feelings of capableness and pride — the more you implement compassion in your leadership, the harder your employees will work. And this emotional engagement will be boosted by the brain releasing oxytocin (feeling of connection to others), dopamine (anticipating reward) and serotonin (feeling good).
In times of crisis, lead with transparency and put your people first. You’ll be rewarded with stronger employee loyalty and trust. Be aware of your employees and their issues. It’s the compassionate response to put your employees’ personal struggles on the radar, rather than dismiss the problems as bad for the organization.
Universal Need 3- Stability: Be Their Foundation In Unstable Times
It is time for leaders to learn to be agile, to fail forward, to live in their Smart State (where emotional engagement, innovation, collaboration reign) and ultimately, guide their teams there too. Unfortunately, we aren’t always aware of what sends us into our Critter State (fight/flight/freeze) and what sends us into our Smart State where we have access to all of our resources and can respond from choice.
When you are aware of what will send your team into their Smart State, you are present to any of the behaviors that are currently sending them into their Critter State. Thus, stability is created.
Universal Need 4- Hope: Mission/Vision/Values
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― William Faulkner
One of the most powerful ways to inspire and provide hope and purpose to your organization is through your mission, vision and values. They are the most important and core elements a company of people can be aligned with. These components are essential and powerful drivers for intrinsic motivation and building a foundation where fear of the unknown is sustainable.
1. Mission – Your purpose – what’s the big why? Is it worthy and emotional?
2. Vision – What you’re aspiring to as an organization. Is it compelling? Martin Luther King didn’t just have a simple idea. He had a dream so infused with passion and meaning that others wanted to be a part of it.
3. Values – The standards of behavior – integrity, open communication, team work, etc. – that we are expected to honor as a member of the tribe.
When all three components are clear, you will be amazed at how engaged your culture will become because you have expanded the individual identities of your team members, as well as shown them how their role is positively impacting the world.
Change is inevitable and when we resist what ‘could be’ because we are holding on to ‘what was’, we will consistently remain disappointed, frustrated and locked in fear and pain. Using the above tools will remind your team that they have the power to choose the reality that they want. That is one of the most powerful gifts that you, as a leader, can give your team.