Leadership of others – managing staff & clients
When chaos strikes, it will send the normal order of your operations into disarray. When this happens, your team of followers (whether that is your employees or your clients) will feel the effects and instantly respond. Most of them will have a low tolerance for change and uncertainty which will cause them to “trigger” and respond with erratic emotional behaviour. It is important to remember that this is normal.
Understanding emotional responses of people in times of crisis
For most people, the unknown is a very scary place and it causes them to have an emotional response. It’s extreme. It’s very intense. It’s not normal and it’s not business as usual. It affects everyone differently at different times. Since Covid started, we have seen a 500% increase in the amount of strange things that have happened to the wonderful people that work in small business. There is a lot taking place emotionally, because it truly is a extremely emotional time.
An employee can be steady and straight, “business as usual”, very productive and doing an exceptional job and moments later (literally hours later) they can be in an emotional overwhelm (shut down). There could be heavy emotions – like tears, or they could just be irritated. All of those things can happen in the same day and do happen every single time that this overwhelm takes place.
What do they need from me?
Sometimes it’s nothing more than you listening. Be a good listener – turn on your ears and ask, “How are you doing?” or, “What do you think about that?” or, “What are you feeling?” When you ask questions, let them be open-ended questions (that can’t be answered with a yes or a no). Try to get them talking. Why? Because emotions are very unique in the sense that they need to be processed.
Emotions come from the back of our brain and when we have an emotional response, the best way to deal with that (and the best way to get people to calm down) is to actually listen to them and let them have the emotions they need to. They will go all the way to the bottom and then they will pop and come back up.
You will never be able to talk to someone logically out of an emotional response. It will never happen. Therefore, the best thing that you can do is listen – it’s the Number 1 skill. You don’t have to solve the problem; you don’t even have to get into it. They may find the solutions or opportunities themselves, “I guess I could do this or that”. It will be less work for you than to try to solve the problem on your own but, it will require you to slow down and stay focussed on your people to get them there themselves. They will not do anything productively until they are calm.
Areas up for discussion:
- Their personal thoughts, concerns and challenges
If you have someone that is having an emotional response – get together with them, have a talk with them, and remember to relax. It is imperative to understand that they are not making this up; they are having an actual normal response to the situation. Help them go through their own thoughts and concerns if you can.
- Receiving the emotional currents from the environment
You usually will have someone on your team that will pick up the emotional currents of the environment. There will always be someone around that is highly sensitive to negative or positive emotion and they can actually feel it when they walk into a room. If you have one of these people on your team you will know it because you will have a beacon sign of what is going on in the office. You can tell what is going on in the office by just checking to see if they are happy or sad.
- Watch media sensationalism
Don’t get out of control – and your team will be the same way. If they are jumping on social and spending a lot of time on the media, you will have to caution them. Nothing is really changing from hour to hour – so assure them that everyone will be provided with the relevant and real data of the day. Ask them to try not to go there all the time because that will not be good for them mentally. It is not helping them get to where they need to be.
- Flooding overwhelm/exhausted resilience
Your body will secrete several chemicals that cause you to narrow your focus and make you want to run. It is designed to keep you safe in a primal way. In a regular context of our intellectual thinking, it will shut you completely down. Flooding is when people are no longer thinking with their logical brain. They are however being highly emotional, and that is where the feeling of being overwhelmed and exhaustion set in. Resilience will disappear and decision fatigue will kick in.
Flooding is when the emotions kick in and you experience one of the 5 F’s of responses to crisis:
- Fight (We will never surrender)
- Flight (Okay, we’re outta here)
- Fix (We need to fix the problem) – Fixers are a larger population then fighters or fighters
- Freeze (Deer in the headlights). People tend to feel like they can’t focus. They have a feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Forget it (I’m not buying into this)
We all have a natural (or normal) way – a default or “go to” in the Five F’s. It would be a good idea to know what you are before trying to determine what others are.
Your clients are experiencing stress from:
- Personal triggers
- Amplified emotions from those close to them (one minute they are going to be mad at you; the next, you are simply wonderful)
- Media sensationalism (Watch the guy that wants to talk a lot about what is going on. He may get you into such a funk that you may find your brain needs to be flushed out with a power washer afterwards just to get back up to speed)
- Weak resilience (bounce-back capability – remember that everyone has a different way of bouncing back. It all depends on what they’ve been through).
How do I need to show up as a leader?
As a leader, you need to show up every day. Therefore, as a leader, ask yourself what your people need to see in you. What are people expecting you to be in business and in life? How are they expecting you to show up? When you decide how you are going to show up, guess what? You will. When you decided to be strong and powerful in a rough time – you will. If you decide to have your head on straight – you will. It’s just making a choice to do it. These are stressful times and you don’t have to have all your crap together. You don’t have to have all your pieces in line. Not everything has to be perfect in your life for you to be strong and powerful.
- Be decisive – this will reduce their stress
- Be consistent – this will increase their trust
- Be real – if not, they’ll loose faith in your leadership
- Focus on the positive (Why? Because there is enough negative – you don’t need to add to it). Focus on the positive without making it too ridiculous. Sometime people just say, “It’s all going to be fine”. Don’t do that. It would be better for you to say, “Yes, this is really affecting things. We need to make a strategy around how we are going to survive this and prosper. That’s what we have to think about.”
- Allow others to vent their emotions – this creates a safe place to get better
Spend the time to listen to people and help them through it. It keeps you in the right mind-set yourself when you help others.
Remember: Things change, but the decision to actually succeed has not.