Showing up for crisis (an empowering message)

I think we can safely agree that this Covid-19 situation has caught our attention. I’m sitting in Ontario, Canada, watching closely as our political leaders show up for this crisis, and I’ve seen a few themes that I want to highlight for all leaders in all workplaces.

These leadership themes are: demonstrate respect; make room for experts; have clear priorities; use the crisis to fuel energy.

Leaders demonstrate respect

Remember how major political issues are typically steeped in petty snippery? From where I sit that ugly habit has vanished. That shift in tone alone says a lot about this situation, am I right? In its place I see productive collaboration. How incredibly refreshing for all of us.

The Canadian and US governments were able to settle and communicate last week’s border closure in a matter of days, as partners. Days, people.

All levels of government are partnering, which is setting the tone for the people. It is the healthiest I’ve seen governments behave in… ever in my life. I hope when this is all over, the collaboration can live on.

Question: How could you be collaborating more respectfully right now?

Leaders invite the experts into the conversation

No one on the planet has experienced the scope of this situation in their lifetime. Viruses aren’t new (obviously), but this situation feels new to us. Happily (yay 21st century!), some people on the planet are experts in this field.

And our leaders are making room for those experts to take up a lot of space in this situation. Some are savvier in the media than others, and that is OK (once again, real and refreshing).

They are showing up and advising on the difficult decisions the governments are making, and that’s exactly what we need right now. They have the information we all need.

Question: What experts could you look to, to lighten the load you’re carrying, and improve the decisions you’re influencing?

Leaders have clear priorities

This is simple but so important. We already know that having clear priorities makes everything easier. Through their words and their actions, our political leadership is demonstrating clear priorities. At the risk of simplifying (then again, simplifying is part of the appeal of priorities), Priority #1 is the people’s health, and minimizing the impact of this health crisis, and Priority #2 is supporting the economy through major disruption. A lot of us have questions and opinions about it, but from where I sit the clarity at least is helpful: health of the humans is first.

Question: what are your top two or three priorities right now, in order?

Leaders are energized

One of my favourite radio moments last week was when Matt Galloway of CBC’s Metro Morning asked federal finance minister Bill Morneau “How are you feeling?” (a question he’s asking all the decisions makers right now, and their answers are really interesting).

I’m going to paraphrase Morneau’s response – he said something like: I feel energized to be in this position at this time, so we can get our country through this.

ENERGIZED, people. He is energized.

This is the man who is essentially putting many parts of our economy to sleep (temporarily), in the name of health for the humans. His actions are impacting the daily lives of tens of millions of people. He has never done anything like this before (a reflection of the newness of this situation, not his experience). He is in the messy middle of what I think we can assume is a significant challenge, if not the greatest challenge, of his career and possibly life.

And he is ENERGIZED. I have a lot of respect for that, especially in crisis.

To be clear, we’re all allowed to be humans, including the people leading us through this. Our political leaders are probably having some not-so-energized moments during this and will have more, like the vast majority of us. But choosing to be energized is empowering. That choice is available to all of us, right now.

Question: how can you become more energized to rise through this?

Final word

Remember the creative problem solving, adaptation, communication and collaboration skills that we’re always talking about in Future of Work discussions? The time is now.

Makers all over the world are sewing masks for front line workers. Hospitals are holding PPE drives to collect the safety equipment they need. If you’ve got it in you right now, get energized for this. Show up and lead.


Want to talk about showing up as a leader in your world right now? Book your free career strategy and intro to coaching session with me, HERE.

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