Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ―Marie Curie

What we are enduring and navigating today was unimaginable just a few months ago.

The COVID-19 virus has required us to make major adjustments to our daily lives. Social distancing from loved ones and teleconferencing for our most important human interactions have become daily realities. The manner in which we do business and work as teams have undergone the largest single disruption than nearly anyone can remember.

Facing the Unforeseen

In the midst of such tumult, it feels often as though the only thing we as leaders can do is react as effectively as possible to the current situation and hope that it passes quickly.

There is absolutely no doubt that the first order of business is to keep our companies operating and to take care of our customers and our team members. This is, of course, no small task and requires the vast majority of our time and effort. And … as we navigate the storm, there are opportunities that lay within the present challenge. We all have the opportunity to re-examine the systems, processes, and protocols that we have traditionally employed to conduct our business in ways that would not likely have been considered without such a disruption. Communication during the current crisis has become, in a way, more intentional.

There are simply not the same opportunities for passing greetings and proximal interactions as we walk through the workplace. In a traditional setting, we may realize that we have gone weeks or months exchanging only niceties with our fellow team members. Persons with whom we may have had only transactional passing conversations for years may now be people with whom we have the chance to build stronger relationships.

Strengthening Relationships in a New Way

As a leader, the absence of passive interactions allows you to intentionally focus on growing the positive connection that supports the working relationship of the future. Investing in the quality of the relationships, with those we lead, can pay great dividends in terms of future productivity and efficiency. The demonstration of genuine caring is always a trait that team members appreciate in their leader. Asking thoughtfully about how their family is doing, listening, and making a mental note of where you might be able to extend support to that person will be a “deposit in the moral bank account” that may not have been as easy to achieve during normal times.

Because of the disruption to the normal flow of business, this is the opportune time to engage individuals about their thoughts on workflow, use of time in meetings, customer service, or any number of topics on which they may have front-line expertise that can prove to be “value-added”.

Thinking purposefully about where and how to leverage and continue such improved communications when more normal times return, is a demonstration of effective leadership. By making the effort to set up and follow through with such communication you as the leader are building trust and realizing the benefit of your team’s strengths. Sharing with your team that your actions around such communications are intentional and purposeful is an important step. You want those you lead to understand, not only what and how you are communicating, but “why” you are making the efforts to do so.

Overcoming Fear

In a crisis, moving from a place of reaction to a path of intention sends a clear message to your team. Communicating with them in such ways as a leader, you will appear thoughtful, caring, and calm in the middle of the storm.

It will allow the team to perceive that you are not only dealing with the crisis, but you are also looking beyond it to a point where such circumstances no longer dictate our existence. By taking this moment to invest your time and energy in further building the internal relationships within your company, your team will know that the leader sees a future for the business, and thus, a future for them.

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