There is no question every workplace is undergoing drastic changes. The leaders who lead with emotional intelligence are the ones who will succeed and have productive staff teams that are strong and resilient as we move through these changes. Showing empathy and support for yourself and your team is what is most needed by leaders in our current environment.

CMHA National stats indicate currently almost 50% of Canadians are anxious or fearful regarding COVID 19.  You can read their article here

This is across the whole country, not just in the pockets were there are still large numbers of new infections daily. As workplaces continue to come back to onsite activities, the fears and concerns are real and need to be addressed with best practices and empathy. The pandemic has been with us for several months now and we are becoming accustomed to living in fear, but that doesn’t mean it is good for us, emotionally, cognitively, physically, and spiritually. It is taking its toll on us. People cannot perform well when they are fearful or anxious.  We cannot expect the same level of performance as in pre COVID-19 times. Leaders who understand this and support themselves and their staff will be the successful leaders in the long run. Those who push staff to pre pandemic or higher levels of performance to “make up for losses” are setting themselves up for failure and will not survive the “new normal”.

I am often asked why we use horses in our experiential training sessions with staff teams. The answer is horse are real and in the moment. As a leader, you also need to be real and in the moment. What may have worked in the past will not work in our current environment. The leadership skills most needed now come from inside: all those soft skills on emotional intelligence, communication, motivating and supporting others. This is a journey. Leadership is not a cookie cutter approach. We need to be flexible and adapt. That means learning all the time.

A recent example of the need to address the fears and anxieties was reinforced for me a couple of days ago when I got it all wrong and was reminded about this through a lesson from my horse. I had my own agenda front and centre, not unlike a business deadline or quota to meet. I was so focused on my agenda that I completely missed everything my horse, or team, was telling me. My team was afraid of something in the environment, and was telling me loud and clear, but I missed taking notice and addressing the genuine fears. I was more focused on achieving my goal. The end result was the horse turned and bolted. Have you ever had a team member turn and bolt because you didn’t adequately address their genuine concerns?

To remedy my error, I brought the horse back toward the the area of concern for him, but this time I listened to his concerns. Supportively, we worked together to address his fears and arrived at a solution where we were both comfortable. As a leader, when you make a mistake in your leadership, coming back to the team with an open mind and a plan to find a mutually workable solution defininately helps rebuild lost trust and motivates the team to continue moving forward.  

In this gradual rebuilding phase of the pandemic, there are a great many genuine fears and there is a significant risk our best staff will turn and bolt to another organization who takes their concerns to heart. Gone are the days when employers can look only at what an employee will do for them. The most successful organizations will also look to see what they can do to support, grow, and retain their staff teams.

Recognizing and supportively addressing the fears and anxieties will build the team, support their commitment to the organization, and provide excellent word of mouth to attract customers and future employees.

Taking the time to listen and being open to considering options will go a long way to keeping the best staff and building effectiveness across the team.

For more information on how to develop your skills in leadership and build the resiliency skills among team members, email communityhealthconsult@bell.net or visit our website at www.communityhealthcareconsulting.ca

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