In the past few years, I think all of us have been called to step up and lead through a crisis of one kind or another. Whether unofficially with your family, your community, your team – or in an official leadership position of some kind – those of us with the capacity to inspire others and rally people around a common cause, have needed to.
And as we look towards the future, I’m sure you share my sense that there are likely to be many more such moments.
Whether it’s the increase in extreme climate events; political and social unrest; or economic turmoil as we transition to a greener economy – change is happening all around us.
Your opportunity – your calling
To my mind, we have two options in the face of this rapid and intensifying change.
- We can throw our hands up, fall into victim mode, and decide “it’s all doom and gloom”. (Cue: distracting ourselves with Netflix, carbs, alcohol, work…)
- Or we can see that we have an opportunity to step up and be the leaders we are called to be. To model for those around us a new way of inspiring, motivating, caring and guiding others.
Because yes – your impact as an individual can feel small.
But when tens, hundreds and thousands of us show up in this way?
We become the change we are waiting for.
When do we need to motivate and inspire?
Today I want to share ONE example of the kind of thing you need in your leadership toolkit. This is a framework you might want to reach for when you’re in the midst of turmoil.
- Think: a global pandemic has just hit, and your entire business has been turned upside down.
- Or perhaps you’re in a massive organisational reshuffle, with lots of redundancies and changes in leadership.
- Or maybe your family are moving house – it’s a time when everyone needs to rally together at exactly the time when things feel extra uncertain and scary.
These are the moments when it can be really helpful to call on our “Warrioress” – one of the Women’s PowerTypes we use as archetypes of female leadership.
Warrioress is clear, decisive, and organised towards action.
Now, in times of crisis, many of us often turn to our strengths of empathy, soothing and reassurance.
Interestingly, however, research shows us that more than empathy, people crave 3 things from leaders at these time:
- Clear communication.
- An understanding of the underlying issues.
- And the ability to stay clear and come up with a plan.
So, how do we rally our teams and bring people together in these moments of difficulty?
Let me take you through the 3 step process I use to communicate effectively in times of crisis.
Here’s how it rolls:
#1 Say what is happening
Many of us use the idea of a big vision for the future to inspire others when things are tough. Trouble is, in times of real crisis that doesn’t tend to work – because it doesn’t acknowledge what’s really going on.
Instead, start by acknowledging what’s real, including the difficulty or the challenges. And if you can – celebrate what’s good, too.
I remember I had a conversation like this with the team about a month into the pandemic.
It was rapidly becoming clear that this “two week lockdown” was actually going to be something a little bigger than any of us anticipated. We were getting tired. Everything was scary and unknown.
And so I started with what’s real. “You know, we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic and nobody knows what’s up or down. Our horizon is so short and we can’t see what’s coming next.”
I also made a point of celebrating what we’d done.
“A month ago we were going to run a conference for 400 women in London. And we turned that around to a virtual event in 36 hours – and have kept working day in and day out since. Your commitment to this organization is exceptional.”
Maybe it’s “Despite all these changes of leadership we’ve continued to deliver to our clients.”
Or “Even though we’ve been getting ready for this move, you’ve still been going to school and doing your homework and I’m proud of you.”
At this stage, it’s also really powerful to point towards a common adversary or challenge.
So, perhaps it’s the global pandemic. The under-resourcing of the NHS. The fact that you’re about to move house, or you’ve cancelled your holiday, or whatever it is.
My invitation here is to keep it light – playful. I like to think of it as a “gentle growl” – we’re not tipping into aggression or resentment, we’re just nodding towards this commonality of the challenge we’re facing.
So once you’ve drawn everyone’s attention to how things are at the moment – it’s time to turn to what needs to change or continue.
#2 Say what needs to change (or continue)
Now, often when you’re seeking to draw together and motivate people – it’s not about a change in strategy. The bottom line is often just “we’ve got to dig deeper”.
So, share the plan. If it’s the same plan as it’s always been, tell them again: we agreed a month ago that we were going to play the game like this. We’re heading towards this outcome and this is who’s doing what.
And for whatever timeframe you have mapped out – help them to imagine where they’ll be at the end of it.
“At the end of the day, we all come back together here and miracles have happened all over the place.
We have sourced all of the equipment we need. We’ve been able to communicate really clearly to our clients what’s going on.”
“Everything’s packed into boxes and we know we’re ready to go tomorrow morning when the removal company arrives.”
And then you simplify the whole plan down to a core memorable mantra.
Here at One of many, we set a really clear intention to get our clients feeling informed, excited, and held.
We had masses of plans on how to get that done, but we could always check in: are they informed? Do they understand what’s going on? Do they feel held?
Do they sense our energy with them and are they excited? Are they looking forward to what’s coming?
#3 Connect back to the big picture
Finally, connect everyone back to the big picture that’s at play. Now it’s time to feel into that big vision, that hope, that beautiful future you are working to create.
At One of many, it’s always tying it back to equipping a million women to sustainably change their corner of the world.
During COVID, we went beyond the million women to: this is it. This is our moment when we can actually shift the paradigm, living from soft power inside of a crisis, like this being role models of this.
Or how about:
“This is the moment where we as a family come together and discover who we are. We’re going to be there for each other and show we’re a problem solving family, or a family who knows love is the most important thing, or can be brave.”
This can also be a great moment to make it human – for example acknowledging that we’ll make mistakes. That’s okay! Let’s look at each other – look at the faces on the screen, or look around this room, and see how lucky we are to be here together.
How can you lead through a crisis?
I’d love to know where you are being called to step up and lead in your world. Hint: try thinking of a situation where you’re really hoping for someone to come along and sort things out!
What if that person was YOU?
What would you need to feel, know and believe to be able to do it?
If you’d like to discover more tools for powerful leadership – join us at the One Woman Conference. We’ll be exploring a new way of thinking about power that allows you to connect to your truest self, and work with your natural abilities. No putting on a mask or pretending to be someone you’re not. And you’ll leave with a supportive network of new friends, cheering you on to step into your most powerful leadership.
Tickets are still available – get yours here.
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