As leaders, it can be difficult to remember that leading with an attitude of servitude can only happen when we are giving from a place of abundance within ourselves. During times of crisis, this abundance can feel closer to depletion if we aren't conscientious of how we are coping through the crisis and uncertainties at hand. Self-care for leaders, especially to sustain us through longer-termed crises, such as the current pandemic, is necessary in order for our organizations to thrive.
What does it look like to cope through a crisis? We have talked about cultivating sacred daily rhythms, both pre and post crisis. What other strategies exist that are proven to create a sentiment of abundance within the hearts of those in charge of leading the herd?
Self-Care during a crisis
If we look at brain-based research, we remember that during an extensive crisis, the amygdala can become enlarged. This is due to a sustained amount of stress, which can occur without a daily rhythm of work and rest or general self-care routine. Our amygdala controls our emotional responses, as well as cognitive functioning. When under stress, we can experience lesser attention, irritability, and decreased problem-solving capabilities. Thus, it is worth mitigating the impact of stress during times of crisis in order to effectively lead our teams.
So, how can we cope as leaders during periods of sustained crisis? Here are three quick tips to follow to ensure that we function from a place of abundance during extensive crisis or not.
Leaders make daily decisions that can impact anywhere from one to several, often with a pretty intensive multiplier effect. Putting one's own self-care at the forefront of a crisis management strategy is not selfish - it's best practice for a leader who wishes to survive in the long run and in the unknown inbetween. By committing to one task at a time, engaging with one another in community, and being present in our work, we can mitigate the effects of prolonged stress and crisis and better model what we need from our constituents to see a crisis through.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. What are your current feelings about self-care as a leader? Explain. Describe your current self-care routine.
2. Reflect on your ability to monotask versus multitask. Why is monotasking advisable during a crisis?
3. Of the three strategies for coping through a crisis mentioned above, which appeals to you the most? Which do you find most challenging?