In my book, EXTRAORDINARY- the world sold you a map but what you need is a compass, I devote an entire section to courage. We’re going to need courage these next few months.
The formula I lay out in my book is simple but effective:
Fear x Truth x Sacrifice x Action = Courage
If there is good news about a crisis, it’s that it produces the fear that allows courage to exist, and there can be no courage without fear. We’re about to cultivate a lot of courage.
But in the face of fear, our response isn’t a simple choice; it’s governed by what things we believe to be true. Instead of mustering strength for immediate action, we need to fight to grasp facts, truth, and clarity since that determines how we respond to fear.
Many then move to action, but there’s another step. For our fear responses to create impacting courage, there must be sacrifice, specifically something worth sacrificing for. Sacrifice is the releasing of a result or thing wanted or desired for another believed to be of higher value. In other words, to be courageous, your intentional response has to be based on more than just factual knowledge. You need a why big enough to restrain your desire to give in to fear.
After you’ve put the pieces together, acting, through your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, in response to the fear, will create courage.
But now that we know how to create courage, what should be it be focused on?
Focus on others.
Whether leading a company, your customers, or your family, if you’re a leader, you’ll feel best when you’re serving others. At this time of remote connections, it can feel like you’ve lost your influence. It can also be harder to read what people need from you. With that in mind, let me give you the basics. We can start here and build in the coming weeks.
You don’t need to be all things to all people. According to Gallup, these are the four things every follower wants from every leader:
In their book Strengths-Based Leadership, they polled followers asking them what the greatest leaders in their lives contributed to them every day. These for things were the consistent response of 2000 followers. If you’re a leader, here’s your road map for the next eight weeks:
Trust: Keep telling your team that you see them, believe in them, and focus on your belief in their resilience. I’m sending my clients CliftonStrength Team reports to remind them of the talents of their people. (As well as their own.)
Compassion: See them as people. Put your feelings a list aside and fill your checklist with check-ins with your people. During this time, you should have a non-task related check-in calls with each direct report each week. Too many leaders are scared to ask questions that are personal for fear they’ll hear emotional responses they can’t do anything about. You don’t have to fix it; you have to have compassion. Reflect what you hear, validate their feelings, and find your comfort so you can offer encouragement to others.
Stability: Pay attention to what you’re expressing. Whether it’s kids or direct reports, understand that a leader’s every expression passes through a megaphone. Avoid an extreme response. Be calm and assume the best intentions when reading email and messaging since tone is harder to hear through electronic tools. People see your stability as a barometer of how they should be feeling.
Hope: There’s a greater need for hope over vision. In a crisis, a grand “vision” can seem fool-hardy. Hope is vision translated to the shorter term. It’s going to get better. Things will improve. Capture every measure of progress, courage, and kindness.
You can do this. You can provide what the world is shouting for: trust, compassion, stability, and hope.
You were made for this. -You’re a leader.
Share this with a friend.
Strengths Finder Theme Domain Coaching for Trust- Compassion- Stability – Hope
(Here’s a link to the Clifton Strengths Four Domain image)
This season will be hard. It feels non-efficient and the default tendency is to push harder. Some will get paranoid about remote workers and if they’re really working. Go easy. Hunt up small measures. Make a remote work daily routine for yourself. Create new check-ins for employees. Hitting consistent communication actions will keep you feeling active and engaged. Measure new things. Check-ins, video calls, anything that can be captured. As to Trust Compassion Stability and Hope. You’re likely to express stability the easiest. Be careful on the remote pushing as we miss your tone. Make lists to remind you to check in on people’s feelings and needs. Add people “stuff” to your to-do list. Remember to share information. More communication is needed during uncertainty even if it doesn’t have a tie to a specific task. Double your communication
Hope and Compassion will come easiest. Watch that your hope doesn’t stray into being unfounded exuberance. The future beyond the struggle will be easy to envision. Express your perspective in light of the current reality. Show followers you understand what they’re dealing with even as you pitch a new day. If you have a lot of strategic thinkers in your group base you impact on data and understatement. They only trust sound information and in these days with so much lack of clarity, they’ll lose trust in anything they perceive to be anecdotal. Be measured, specific, factual, and yet optimistic.
Follow your instinct to check on people. Remote is a challenge but you can innovate. Video can be surprisingly effective. Remember that getting work done is an effective way to keep people’s minds off their concerns. You may have to re-frame the targets, but small goals will have an impact. Use tools to keep people feeling connected. Encourage people to practice assuming best intent versus reading their own stress into communication as so much of it is about to become electronic. Partner with executing and thinking themes to back up your intuition about what’s happening and will happen.
Don’t be scared of people’s feelings. Being isolated isn’t a fear, it sounds great, but if you’re suddenly unable to find a place to be quiet with the whole family home, this could be a problem. You need 45 min of silence every day to be healthy so plan for it. You do well when writing so the remote communication will work ok with that. Gathering data can be more difficult in a group setting you may be asked for your thoughts since you’re present in the meeting. In a virtual world, you’ll need to interject yourself in new ways. Schedule consistent check-ins with people. Have set questions. Write down your feelings and share them. People will be moved to hear your thoughts.