As I dialed in, I couldn’t help but think we should reschedule the call. Not only was I having a problem thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic, but also talking about developing leadership skills during this time seemed insignificant. To my surprise, Susan had a completely different outlook and perspective.
“John, I know there is a lot going on right now, but I am so excited to be here. I have never proactively taken the opportunity to develop my leadership skills. Now it seems like a requirement to handle the current climate.”
While her words didn’t evaporate all of the challenges ahead, they ignited my mindset and reminded me:
When times are uncertain is when leadership is needed most.
Susan’s commitment to the development of her leadership skills during this time is crucial because the current environment is where her skills need to shine.
For example, most stockbrokers can grow money in a market that’s good, but the ones who make the difference can limit the damage in a downturn. The ones that limit damage are those who continue to develop their knowledge and skills on an on-going basis. Leadership is no different. It’s easy to lead during the great times, but the best leaders (the ones who continuously invest in their skills) shine during times of uncertainty and adversity.
Show your skills
Websters defines a skill as the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. While so many professionals care about their technical skills in the workplace (and they should), it’s the leadership skills that are essential in uncertain times.
The best measure of your current leadership skills is how you lead during the time of need. Ask yourself, “How am I helping my people handle and reject fear right now?”
People fear what they don’t know, understand, or are frightened by. Fear is the emotion of the mind – because the six inches between our ears paints a picture of all that could go wrong and all of the different scenarios that might happen. The keyword here is “might,” its the story we begin to tell ourselves to keep us safe and comfortable. Here is where fear gets complicated. It not only infiltrates your mind, but it seeps down to each person on your team, often in different ways and with different intensity levels.
Your leadership skills require you to communicate with your team how to best handle their current fears, and how to reject them in order to create the best possible outcome for everyone involved. I highlighted some strategies for leading others in uncertain times here.
Use this time to grow
In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic Plague. During that time, Isaac Newton developed calculus AND formulated the notion of gravity as a universal force.
Newton didn’t settle into fear and do nothing. Imagine what you could do! When business slows down, an opportunity arises to put your focus on things outside of your typical responsibilities. Take advantage of this time to develop your skills and the skills of your people.
I have written a lot and often speak about Growth20, which is committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. During a slow down, you might increase it to a Growth60. Instead of binge-watching a Netflix show, read a book, join the Ultimate Leadership (Virtual) Academy, subscribe to Masterclass, dust off a project you’ve abandoned, or help team members develop their skills. The options are endless.
While there is no doubt the current environment isn’t as good as a month ago, you get the opportunity to have the mindset of Susan. Are you going to show and grow your leadership skills during this time or are you going to miss the opportunity?
What are the ways in which you have shown your leadership skills in the last few days? How are you going to grow your leadership skills during the coronavirus pandemic?
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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.