During times of crisis, especially times of global crisis, the same questions are often asked:
- Why did this happen?
- Why is this happening right now?
- What can I do?
- What could I have done to prevent this?
- How will we cope with this?
- What is going to happen?
- Why us?
- Why me?
While it is not the leaders job to answer all of these questions, it is the responsibility of the leader to create and environment where these questions can be asked.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, Leading in Times of Trauma, the authors discuss compassionate leadership when facing times of crisis and upheaval. On the issue of cultivating an environment where team members can work through their questions, the articles gives an example on how to empower an open and compassionate culture:
You can start by setting an example for other by openly revealing your own humanity. You may well experience the same emotions affecting your employees – from deep sorrow to anxiousness to uncertainty to anger to steely resolve. Openly expressing these feelings can be very powerful for those who witness it, especially during time of extreme pain.
Great leadership is synonymous with authenticity; authenticity creates empowering cultures.
Why is it important for people to be able to process in the workplace?
The workplace is a large community for most people. For many people, it becomes their second home. To expect employees to check their emotions at the door is ludicrous. Because these emotions exist, great leaders will create space for these emotions to be communicated and processed through. Once these emotions have been expressed, employees are mentally more prepared to focus at work.
Practically speaking, allot times for team members to come together and process. Not every every team member will want to, but some will. These team members must be allowed to share openly what and how they are feeling.
When it come to a time of crisis, it is important to put people first. When we put people first, the work will inevitably take care of itself.