Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus

The past few weeks have been tough. You have likely been consumed with deliberations on what to do about the coronavirus. With the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic and President Trump’s recent travel restrictions, anxiety seems to be only on the rise.

Many of you are making tough but considerate choices to cancel large gatherings and close facilities. I know you, like us, are worried not just about immediate health concerns but also implications for employees who will feel the very real repercussions of these decisions. I don’t have the magic answer. We are living through this real-time with you. However, I do want to take this moment to share a couple reminders.

1. Show up as the leader you want to be.

When we are stressed and adrenaline is racing through our bodies, our natural response is to avoid pain or uncertainty. As leaders, take this moment to center yourself, reconnect with your intentional leadership philosophy, and show up as helpful, thoughtful, and hopeful. Others are looking to you for this kind of grounding.

2. Share information.

People want to know what is happening, even if the news is tough. Work with others in your organization to construct clear and honest messaging about what is happening. What are the choices being considered? What are the possible implications? When will additional information be shared?

3. Equality isn’t the same as equity.

Making a blanket statement or policy decision in the spirit of being “equal” is not going to pan out that way. Some people, those who have less formal power, less flexibility with their work, fewer benefits, will be disproportionately hit by decisions made. Talk openly about this, engage directly with those who will be most adversely impacted, and seek equitable solutions.

Most of all, take care of yourself and your loved ones, physically and emotionally. Energy begets energy. When anxiety is high it has a negative impact on our ability to be present, caring, engaged. Find ways to infuse positive experiences and emotions into your day, in small, regular doses. Take a walk. Meditate. Listen to music. Call a friend.

For now, be well, friends. We are sending tons of good vibes to you, your colleagues, your families.

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