5 Dos and Don'ts for Leadership during Difficult Times

Some leadership strategies are particularly important during extreme hardship. The following 5 dos and don’ts apply to leadership in general, but they are especially important right now.  Soft skills can be harder than anticipated when you yourself are struggling, and you may be asking more than your employees can give if you aren’t checking yourself. These 5 strategies will help. 

1.         DO provide step-by-step instruction. DON’T content dump. 

Mental exhaustion is a legitimate concern this far into the pandemic. Brains learn better when content is divided into chunks. Don’t assume people will learn if you give them the resources.  That may mentally exhaust them. Instead, reiterate strong points and introduce new material in small doses. 

2.         DO focus on a long-term vision of success. DON’T adhere to unrealistic goals. 

Anxiety and overwhelm are running high.  While chunking goals into smaller bits may have worked earlier this year, goalsetting may not be working at all for some now.  Reevaluate pre-pandemic goals and adjust, since those may be unrealistic in the present climate.  Unrealistic goals will only contribute to anxiety and overwhelm and decrease productivity. 

3.         DO let feelings come and go. DON’T try to control feelings or assign value judgments. 

Trying to control or feelings or numb yourself to them will only cause more distress later.  Grief is real and tangible in the workforce.  Respect it in yourself and others.  

4.         DO practice gratitude. DON’T practice extreme tone-deaf positivity. 

Gratitude yes!  Toxic positivity no. Positivity to the extreme is dismissive to those who are struggling. It’s also tone-deaf to the state of current affairs. Be sensitive. Be kind. Be grateful instead. 

5.         DO listen and empathize. DON’T judge. 

Even in good times, empathy is what the best employees want most in leadership. Check your judgments and be compassionate and understanding instead. If you feel like you don’t have any answers or won’t be able to help, that’s ok. Listening is a powerful tool.

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