5 ways leaders can stop people from panicking
Thursday, March 19, 2020
If I get one more email from someone telling me “don’t panic,” I’m going to freak out. There are other ways of helping people calm their fears.
I don’t know about you, but whenever someone tells me not to panic or be afraid, I become more frightened. I feel that the person uttering those words is either not hearing me or trivializing my concerns.
The coronavirus has interrupted our lives and businesses as we know it. As a leader, I want to share five ways you can help people remain calm and be present in their lives.
Instead of telling people not to panic or insisting they take a deep breath, it’s time for you as a leader to take that deep breath and relate to people where they are. If you truly want to put their mind and emotions at ease, be with them.
Acknowledge their fear, take a deep breath with them and do what you can as a leader to help your employees (and friends, too) feel connected. We are most afraid when we feel alone, that it is all up to us to “save ourselves,” and then we get worried that we can’t. When people feel connected and when they feel part of a community, they are less afraid and they can do more; they can think clearly and they are more creative. When people are afraid, they freeze which only amplifies fear and results in more panic.
While there are many parts to the coronavirus you can’t control, there are other parts you can control.
This is the time that you can be a great leader by engulfing your employees and the people around you in community. Small actions can make a big difference and have a long-lasting impact. When you use creative ways to make your people feel included in community, you’ll feel part of it too. Your actions to help others will increase your sense of empowerment and you’ll be empowering others to do the same.
Here are five actions you can take now create circle of community that can keep growing.
1. Schedule time every day to reach out to people up and down the ladder of your organization. If possible, pick up the phone. Everyone needs to know they matter. This will help your employees know they are not alone, and that you do care. It will brighten their day.
Encourage them to call at least three more people and tell the people they call to call three more. This will create a cascade of people checking in with each other and break some of the feelings of isolation.
2. Set up an Instagram or a Facebook page for the organization where people can share pictures of what they’re doing. Seeing each other will also reduce feelings of isolation and keep them connected to the organization.
3. If people are working at home, they can post progress reports and ask for help with any challenges. Don’t make it a formal report but create a sense of “we’re in this together and we can help each other.”
4. In the midst of all of this, you can create a space for levity and lightness. Ask everyone to post recommendations for books, movies, TV, games and music playlists.
5. Make sure that you include and invite everyone at every level to be part of and help grow the community circle.
This situation is not going to last forever. We will get back to work and move forward. Create community now, acknowledge people’s fears and communicate with a sense of calm, and respect. Taking these steps creates a foundation for an engaged, loyal team now and in the future.
As my colleague Charmaine McClarie, who has worked with C-suite executives in of some of the top organizations in the world, says, “Now is the time to heighten your humanity with empathy, connection and communication on a daily basis.”
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