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How To Be an Empathetic Leader in a Time of Uncertainty

Source | LinkedIn : By Kasey Fleisher Hickey

As a leader, you’ll be faced with situations that feel deeply unsettling, uncomfortable, and uncertain. You’ll feel like all eyes are on you, and everyone on your team is waiting for answers and guidance. And to some extent, your team is watching you — but how you lead in these times doesn’t come down to knowing exactly what to do.

As a coach, my job is to give people the tools to navigate difficult situations — not give them the “right answer.”

And so, I tell leaders: get curious, get out of your ego, and stop worrying about how you’ll be perceived in these difficult times. Your people need you. Let’s walk through three practical ways you can shift your worldview, help your teammates get unstuck, and stop operating from a place of fear.

Acknowledge that nothing is truly in our control

Uncertain times are often closely related to feelings of disappointment: things aren’t going the way you thought they would. How do you deal with unpredictability and feeling out of control? Leaders mistakenly assume that they can somehow control future outcomes, when the only reality they have is now.

I tell my clients that when you’re feeling something, no matter what the feeling is, you have the right to feel it. You can remain unsteady: sit with it.

By not allowing ourselves to grieve the disappointment of loss, we become paralyzed by the notion that there’s nothing we can do.

In our culture, it’s common to want to immediately go in and solve things but the truth is there are times when we’ll have feelings we can’t change or outcomes we can’t predict. By not allowing ourselves to grieve the disappointment of loss, we become paralyzed by the notion that there’s nothing we can do. And by focusing too much on identifying an immediate solution to the problem, we lose sight of what’s most important in these uncertain times: to be there for the people who need us most.

Mindfulness research suggests that the mind has an “innate ability to be present,” and we can shape how we react to situations that feel deeply upsetting or uncontrollable. While we can’t control the future, mindfulness teaches leaders that they can inspire the people who work with them by being more present, available, and vulnerable.

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