By Antoine Bebe
More than ever, in a time of crisis, you need to lead yourself before you may lead others. Here are 3 core dimensions that a leader needs to manage in such circumstances.
1. Manage your energy
You may have to strain further your workload and seek extra focus in order to handle the unexpected or unknown situations. Moreover, because of the crisis, some or many of the people around you might not be able to fulfill their positions and support you. For all this, you will need extra energy. This is the reason why we highly recommend that you manage your energy first and foremost. It will have a direct impact on your health, your spirit, your capacity to focus and your capability to tackle more than expected. You also need to manage it over time. Running for a 100-meter dash or running a marathon are pretty different.
Be aware of your energy level and of its cycles. Manage them rather than try to overcome them.
Set up regular breaks during the day. Even a 5-7 minutes break will be good if you know how to relax/meditate/nap…
Know your circadian rhythms and ensure that you get restful sleep.
Manage your food intake and know what works for you to enable you to be focused at different times of the day.
Stay fit and practice regular workout.
2. Manage your emotions
You need to be emotionally stable and strong when everything is shaken around you. This will obviously help you face the unknown and take the right decisions. It is also mandatory as you will have to support people around you who may at some point feel fear, anger, depression or lose control. To handle their emotional state with acceptance and caring, then help them evolve towards more positive states, you need to be highly balanced yourself.
Because emotions are always embodied, working out will help reinforce your mental endurance.
Label your personal library of resourceful emotions and know how to trigger them at will in challenging situations.
Spot what could unset you and in which specific contexts. Imagine what emotional state would be helpful in those contexts. Train to access this state.
When the challenging situation occurs, do not try to ignore or confront it. Let it pass in an evasive mental movement, just as you would do physically to avoid being hit. If you do so, you’ll be able to face and even welcome what may happen and handle it best.
3. Take ethic-based decisions
Faced with the unknown, you need not only to be creative to find new ways of relating to yourself and others, as well as new ways of acting and solving problems; you also need to make a lot of decisions. To to do so you may be tempted to call forth old theories and methods, but will they be truly relevant in a definitely new context? You are already familiar with taking into account the probable concrete consequences of your decisions, but how could you be certain of these consequences in an unprecedented situation? At times of crisis, even more than for business as usual, your responsibility will be engaged and the quality of your decisions will be evaluated on their actual consequences. Decoding how your decisions lead to these observable consequences is also key to create a feed-back loop that will help you adjust and make your way successfully in the new situation.
Does it mean that the end justifies any means? Certainly not. Rather, we suggest that you focus on ethics - that is taking into account the impact of your decisions on all individuals and groups in your direct area of intervention as well as in a wider system.
Good energy and emotion management will help you take both consequence and ethics-based decisions, because it will reinforce the accuracy of your gut feeling.
Elicit your personal values and those of the institution you are working for (company, NGO, network…). Use those values as a set of criteria to check that your decisions match them.
Systematically assess all the potential positive consequences and also all the unpleasant or harmful consequences for all stakeholders. Then find creative ways to circumvent the negative consequences of the decision.
Evaluate the intellectual, emotional and gut feeling quality of your decision.