LEADERSHIP – STEPPING UP AND CHECKING IN
They say crisis reveals one’s true strengths. This crisis, this year, has been revealing like few others – a surreal year in which we’ve all experienced moments beyond belief. Moments when we consciously acknowledge we’re seeing a different world from what we’ve seen before or could ever have anticipated. Throughout this past year RISE has been here to report, help make sense of, and discuss new developments, separating the noise from the news.
Contributing so richly to these conversations, have been our Execs In Residence, an array of extraordinary leaders from all sectors of our Travel, Tourism and Hospitality industry. Each has brought a fresh perspective and inspired us with their insight and their calm and optimistic approach to dealing with each challenge as it’s arisen. The RISE team has also observed, as our hosts Anita and Demian have facilitated thought leadership through RISE and have led their clients and students in navigating the way forward.
Last week on RISE we were joined by Fred Dixon, CEO of NYC & Company as well as the CEO of Singapore Tourism Board, Keith Tan. Both are forward-thinking leaders from iconic global Tourism Cities. They shared their challenges and their perspectives on supporting tourism in their cities and remaining future-focused. One of our viewers asked Keith what was the most important thing he’d learned as a leader this year. His response became the inspiration for the topic of this Blog; “Stay calm and prepare for all possibilities. There are all sorts of things that could happen, surprises that come along the way. The crises and the challenges can come from anywhere, so I think as the leader of any organisation, we have to be prepared to roll with the punches and continue to imbue our teams with a sense of optimism.”
Why? Because it’s absolutely true that this is what’s expected of leaders, whether you’re the leader of a family, a class, a company or a country. And it’s what great leaders do – they deliver on the expectation that they remain calm in the face of adversity, and they instill that same sense of calm and resilience in those they’re leading safely through the crisis. But what is the personal cost and toll on those who lead? Who checks in on them to see how they’re coping? Self-care seems another responsibility they themselves must undertake. As we move through and beyond this crisis, it’s important to remember that sometimes the psychological effects are only felt when the immediate crisis is over, once we have the time to reflect and assess. So, we looked a little closer at what this means and how we can mitigate the personal toll of leadership through crisis. We all feel the weight of leadership to some degree, whether we’re leading a small family or a business empire!
A Professional Perspective
RISE – AND SHINE talked with Colin Wilford who is a Clinical Psychologist, Leadership & Executive Coach and CEO of Wilford Scholes. We asked him about his observations and experience of the psychological toll on leaders during crises. He states that any organisational crisis, whether financial, emotional or medical has a profound psychological effect on the leaders of that organisation, for these 3 reasons:
The leader, like a parent, feels directly responsible for the safety and well-being of all those under their care. This deep sense of responsibility dramatically increases the amount of stress experienced by the leader concerning those they lead especially when that leader is empathic and people orientated.
When anyone suffers from the effects of a crisis, the leader naturally feels it’s their fault even though this may be irrational. During the past year many have faced painful decisions like reducing staff numbers or discontinuing contracts. Taking on that guilt is a common response and they wonder why they can’t sleep or why they are less patient than before.
RELUCTANCE TO DELEGATE
Often the leader feels solely responsible for fixing the problem. Despite their own training and mentoring, they feel the weight of it all being up to them to provide relief and resolution and so they often neglect to share the load and have others provide solutions.
Colin suggests these 5 steps when leading through and beyond a crisis:
1. Never try to deal with the crisis on your own. Always involve other capable work colleagues who can share the load.
2. Make sure you talk with a mentor or trusted associate about your feelings, fears and thoughts. This process will help you be more aware of the impact on you and what you can do about it.
3. Know that there is a solution to every crisis and you may need to research who has dealt with this before and what they did to resolve it.
4. Remind yourself that you are not expected to know all the answers and that often all you can do is merely facilitate and encourage others to find their own solutions.
5. Change your perspective to realise that a crisis is there to teach you and make you more effective and experienced as a leader and try to avoid focusing on the crisis always being a bad thing.
WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT
Anita points out , “we should try to refrain from judging how other leaders have responded to a crisis, especially when a shared crisis like this past year. We all have different wiring, and therefore different responses. We all need to be sensitive to different people’s abilities to endure struggles in different ways.”
As travel restarts, lockdowns ease in some parts and we look to the next normal, it’s important to check in on our resilient selves, take the time to acknowledge the toll this year has taken and take the necessary steps to ensure that resilience remains and that we’re able to enjoy moving forward!
So…‘Arm Doors and Cross Check’ – which also happens to be the title of our final episode of Season 3 next week! Don’t miss any clues about what Season 4 will bring. Anita and Demian are delighted to be sharing the RISE stage with Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue. Be there, same time and place to hear what Dan has to say about what destinations and travel companies are doing to help us all get back out there safely.
Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.