Sometimes it’s at the turbulent center of a monumental crisis where true leaders discover their inner strength. Individuals who despite incredible fear and uncertainty found the inner strength to persevere through all the tumult. History is littered with examples; perhaps none so rooted in the American psyche than Abraham Lincoln – a very soft-spoken man from humble origins who somehow managed to hold this country together despite the profound loss of life all around him.
In normal times, an introduction like that would qualify as hyperbole. But as we’re all aware by now, the situation we presently find ourselves in is anything but normal!
As much as your clients want to know that their plan and their portfolio are okay, they also want to know that you and your team are okay. You need to reach out and reassure them that you’re both physically and mentally healthy and fully engaged.
Be self-aware and adaptive
There are seven skills of emotional intelligence – first among those is self-awareness. Take time to ask yourself are you okay and to think about what you’re doing to take care of yourself. Anytime there’s a significant disruption in our day-to-day routines, there’s a tremendous amount of energy required in order to maintain focus, stay organized and remain confident.
Just last week I was speaking with a supremely successful and highly confident advisor. As we spoke, I could hear a palpable frenetic electricity in his voice that I had never heard before. I took a minute to slow him down, and simply asked how things were going. Turns out that his spouse who was now working from home, two kids needing to be homeschooled, and the inability to de-stress daily at the gym were all weighing on his mental state to the point of seriously impacting his ability to function.
I’m someone who’s always woken up between 5:00 and 5:30 every day. I like getting to the gym for a run or some weight training before my workday begins. It helps me to get energized and stay alert. These last couple of crazy weeks, however, I’m not sure why, but I’ve noticed that I seem to need more sleep. So, I’m adapting to the need – shifting around my schedule a bit – and giving myself permission to wake-up at 6:30 instead. Now, I go straight to my home office to start working. Around midday I check out for a workout or a run, then back to the office for the rest of the afternoon. I haven’t done that for ages, but the small adjustment is making a world of difference to my energy levels.
There’s a reason the flight attendants instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others! If you truly want to help your team and your clients navigate these unchartered waters, you first need to fully prepare yourself physically and mentally for the battle ahead.
Later this evening when things have calmed down, or first thing tomorrow morning before the day begins, take a few minutes and ask yourself one essential question: What shifts or changes do I as a leader need to make in order to function at the top of my game in this new normal?
Some things never change
Despite the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in, there are certain characteristics of a great leader that are immutable. Whether you’re studying Alexander the Great in 300BC, Joan of Arc in the 1400s or Martin Luther King in the 1960s, they all possessed innate talents and skills that would have empowered them to lead people in any era.
At ClientWise, we’ve created The Crisis Leadership Assessment: Qualities Necessary in Times of Crisis to help you better understand these abilities and focus on areas where you can improve your skills. Remember: people aren’t born great leaders; leadership is an acquired skill.
Coaching Questions from this article:
- How has your personal and professional life changed over the past few weeks and what steps have you taken to adapt to this new reality?
- In what specific ways have you been able to demonstrate strong, self-assured leadership in directing your team through this crisis? List two or three additional actions you can take over the next couple of weeks to give them even greater confidence.
- In what specific ways have you been able to demonstrate strong, self-assured leadership to help your clients in this crisis? List two or three additional actions you can take over the next couple of weeks to give them even greater confidence.