To start his talk, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz admitted to being at a bit of a loss when asked about best practices for leading through a pandemic. "The honest answer is I don't know," he stated, "because none of us has lived through a pandemic."
Despite that admission, he then proceeded to deliver a number of valuable lessons for leaders of organizations, departments or teams to bear in mind in these confounding and anxiety-provoking times.
Leaning on his experience as a clinician as well as a consultant to leaders of many large and small corporations, he talked about how to effectively help people who are legitimately anxious about the virus, the current economic conditions, the current social conditions, and even those who are just anxious and depressed because of the uncertainty of how long it will be until we can get into a more "normal" state of affairs.
Some critical lessons for leaders:
- Look after yourself first - If you can't take care of yourself by getting exercise, eating well and getting a good night's sleep, you won't be able to take care of anyone else.
- Communicate more than you ordinarily would - Communicating well now is more important than ever because we are being deprived of the ordinary human interactions that we are accustomed to.
- Use technology to replicate informal social interactions - Informal social interactions outside of meetings help to create social bonds that create a sense of trust and safety and build cohesion in teams.
- Give people hope - Telling the truth, being authentic, and being honest about what you don't know all help people who are feeling uncertain.
- Double down on culture and values - Think of your team as a community and put your values first. Show your people that you care about them.
- Focus on the future - Anxiety pushes people to short term thinking and leaders who can focus on reimagining the future give people a reality-based hope, something that is in short supply right now.
Stride's Leading through Adversity series brings experts from around the globe, from a variety of disciplines, to provide a 360-degree view on best practices for leading during uncertain times.
Upcoming speakers in the series include:
- Pivoting when your business model gets upended - Meetup CEO David Siegel (June 18th)
- Taking smart risks in a time when everything you do is a risk - Leadership consultant and author Doug Sunheim (June 25th)
- Continuously learning our way to better outcomes - Jeff Gothelf, author of "Lean UX" and "Sense & Respond" (July 2nd)
- Learning to manage remotely may transform how we think about and practice management - Author and speaker Esther Derby (July 9th)
- How limits empower your agility - author of Agile Retrospectives, Diana Larsen (July 16th)
- How the tech job market has shifted due to COVID-19 - Codecademy CEO Zach Sims (July 23rd)