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Post COVID-19, Reimagining Leadership Resiliency Part 3: Managing Fear

Managing Fear During The Pandemic

Many business leaders are struggling right now, as they grapple with unforeseen, unprecedented and seemingly unsolvable challenges. Their teams look to them for leadership, which is why I wrote a paper on the subject for Mythos Group, offering practical guidance in a number of key areas required for building leadership resiliency: 

1. Positive mindset
2. Build trust
3. Manage fear
4. Transparency

The need to manage fear is particularly acute in these times. 

As a global pandemic, COVID-19 is rapidly transforming the way we live our daily lives and is causing significant anxiety in the workforce; employees are reluctant to return to their workplace because of the fear of getting sick. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a monumental dilemma for leaders – one they have never faced before.  On one hand, reopening businesses means asking some employees, if not their entire team, to return to work, where they run the risk of being exposed to the virus. On the other hand, leaders have to consider how long they can continue with remote work or remain shuttered.    

In the current pandemic, fear manifests itself in many ways. Some employees may be fearful of getting furloughed, or losing their job, or financial security. Other employees may be fearful of contracting the coronavirus, or business travel, or keeping their family safe – aging parents and/or daycare for their children.

There are three valuable techniques for managing fear:

Develop Personal Bonds: Fear impacts business decision-making both top-down and bottom-up. While leaders can’t eliminate their employees’ fears, they can manage them. Encouraging their employees to be open and honest about what they are feeling and experiencing, leaders can develop a personal bond with them, especially if they are able to be vulnerable enough to share their own fears. 

Lead with Humanity: By being an attentive, compassionate, and empathetic listener, leaders can articulate what they and the organization plan on doing to support their employees, and reduce their stress by going deep on what returning to work would look like with all of its ramifications. Leaders need to be understanding and supportive of employees who may not want to return to the office but rather continue working remotely. 

Demonstrate Optimism: Leaders need to fight fear with optimism, possibilities, and personal stories. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for the organization to learn new things and pivot. Thoughtful and inspirational leadership is the antidote to fear – it helps employees see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Post-COVID-19, Leadership Resiliency

The current climate, and the new normal that will emerge, demands leadership that is empathetic, and flexible in its ability to assuage employees’ well-founded fears. 

Mythos Group’s white paper, Post-COVID-19, Reimagining Leadership Resiliency, contains more detail on this and other recommendations, and is available to download for free from Papers.


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