‘We cannot control the wind, but we can adjust the sails.’ – Bertha Calloway
We’ve all experienced it; some might experience it every day, that feeling of being out-of-control. Our anxiety levels and feelings of overwhelm increase, our heart might start pounding, we might find ourselves suddenly frozen from movement, we might try to run away and hide, and we might try and fight back. We like to feel in control, it’s wired into us.
So, when we are in times of crisis, we as leaders, need to be in control for ourselves, but also for those that we lead. Being in control will allow us to make more informed decisions and will help provide a comfort to others that need to know that someone else to be in control. In a crisis, this is even more important than normal, other members of staff want to look up the leader and feel like they will know the answer or at the very least, they will go find the answers rather than be frozen by a sense of panic.
As a leader, we are going to have a bit more responsibility on our shoulders than other team members however we are still just normal people too. So, the personal pressures of this kind of situation will still be present. Keeping ourselves safe, our families safe, food on the table, money in the bank to keep money on the table, home schooling if they have children, dealing with dodgy internet connections. And as a leader, it’s OK for you to worry about this stuff too, as we said, we’re all normal people!
Depending on the culture in your organisation that we talked about last week, you may have the kind of culture where you can be open with your team and let them into your personal world but for some, this won’t be an option. Either way, ensure you have a support system around you who you can share your worries with. Be it family, friends, a coach or mentor.
The personal pressure of responsibility can be huge on a leader, particularly in a time of crisis. And remembering that we are all normal people, just because we have Director, Founder, CEO etc as our title, it doesn’t give you super-powers I’m afraid! So, we are going to feel the pressure that other people are looking up to us for answers and relying on us to find the right path.
It all comes down to acknowledging what we can control and accepting what we can’t.
Wayne Dyer sums it up perfectly,
‘You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside’
Now knowing what we can control is where many of us falter. What things would go in your control circle? Your influence circle? Your accept circle? Focus on what you can control then what you can influence. Leave the things you have to accept; it’s wasted head space. We often try to control things that we have no ability to. We cannot control the global pandemic, but we can influence how we navigate it as a business. We can control how we feel about it.
As a leader, you need to first control yourself to stabilise the ship in the storm.
Your team/your crew then need clear directions. When appropriate, explain the reasons for your directions.
Now these directions might change as the weather changes and that’s OK. It’s OK to have one approach in mind for you to then be forced to change direction due to unforeseen circumstances. Just make sure that you’re scanning the world around you, trying to spot those potential dangers with as much notice as possible and changing course. That control of the ship, even if you have to go around in circles for a while will still leave your team feeling safer than if you head straight into danger whilst you have lost control of the ship.
Retaining control is one of the true tests of leadership. It’s easy to catapult a ship forward but keeping control of it when the weather turns is the real test.
Once you’ve managed to do this, then you can continue navigating to move forward through the 7Cs.
Join us each week as we are navigating the 7Cs of Crisis, next week we will be looking at Challenge.