How do I help my client through the pandemic?
We recently published the issue called “Sticky Situation – How do I help my client through the pandemic?” written by Victoria Trabosh, CDC, CEC; Suzi Pomerantz, MT, MCC; .and Craig Carr, BCC, PCC, CPCC
The Situation: My client is experiencing waves of intermittent fear and optimism as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s impacting their ability to be empathetic and understanding leader when the team is also experiencing volatile emotions. How can I best support my client in navigating an organization filled with emotional people, especially when we are all facing unpredictability and volatility on a global scale?
Here’s what one of our experts, Craig Carr had to say…
It sounds like your client is one of many executives finding out they’re expected to know how to lead a virtual team. This suddenly common situation can be stressful and fragmenting for everyone. Meanwhile, coaches are also having to pivot and learn about the unique characteristics of a distributed workforce.
Group and leadership dynamics are suddenly different, too. One of the first wobbles a leader confronts is accepting that things will not go back to the way they were. When leaders communicate it’s only a matter of time before things return to normal, they risk losing credibility and loyalty if the core business cannot support their claim.
Even if the office does re-open, significant changes are ahead, and leaders need to be ready. This represents the first layer of calm a leader must project. They must communicate an “I’ve got your back” message and, more importantly, find in themselves where the purpose and mission of the organization are worth rallying for. I can say with a high degree of certainty that the leader who has ignored, denied, or overridden systemic dysfunctions will see unhealthy hidden dynamics and negative unconscious patterns played out when a crisis occurs, or when their team goes remote.
When a leader eschews empathy and honesty and then continues to do so in the presence of volatility, at least 60 percent of the group will have no trust in them when the emotional turbulence of a crisis gets real. If that is the person you’re coaching, you’ll have some remedial leadership work to do with the client and some trauma resolution to do with the team. It will be a tough, challenging slog, especially if the leader is not up for being vulnerable, open, and humble with their cohort.
That said, I also want to approach this as if your client has done work on knowing who they are and sees that the organization is in crisis and people are freaking out. Here’s one way to look at what needs to happen: When the Titanic was going down, do we think the heroes were those who panicked and pushed to the front of the line to get on a lifeboat or those who “took a beat,” found courage, and helped others to safety?
My point is that now is a time when “calling forth” is the skill every coach must be ready and willing to brandish like a sword. If that leader/client of yours is not able to rally the team, you must find out if it’s personal fear that’s stopping them, or if they don’t care enough about the company mission to do what it takes.
Another one of our experts, Suzi Pomerantz had this to say…
During a global pandemic and the ensuing economic and public health crisis we are all navigating, leadership faces unprecedented challenges. Here are five steps you can take with your leadership coaching clients to help them to right the ship.
Normalize It – Help your clients to realize that they are not alone, everything they are feeling is normal, valid, and appropriate. Be present with them as they express their emotions to you, to model for them how to be with their employees during volatile times. Clear space for them to become listening leaders who can then validate the experiences of their employees. Normalize the experience for your clients. Help them to identify their preferred method of metabolizing their emotions, to self-regulate and clear space for their employees’ emotions so they can then hold that space and not be triggered.
Stages of Grief – The most widely accepted model of understanding grief is the Kubler-Ross cycle, which includes: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Your clients and their employees are likely experiencing these stages in rapid succession – perhaps daily or multiple times a day. Help them understand and name that their experience may fit the stages of grief, so they can process it and choose their responses.
Uncertainty & the Brain – David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, says, “Uncertainty registers in the brain as an error, gap, or tension: something that must be corrected before one can feel comfortable again. That is why people crave certainty. Not knowing what will happen next can be profoundly debilitating because it requires extra neural energy.” Leaders can use conversational strategies to create certainty and calm the central nervous systems of individuals and the collective. Originally a military term, we are now all experiencing VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Leaders must pivot their leadership style and strategies to match.
To read the full article, click here.
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