SEATTLE — Leaders across all types of companies, from large corporations to small businesses, are working to support their teams through this unprecedented time.
“Now more than ever, your team members are not okay,” said Lindsey T. H. Jackson, artist, business strategist and owner of LTHJ global. “Most likely you as a leader are not okay either.”
Corporate leaders and small business owners, along with their team members are dealing with anxiety and depression at abnormal levels. The stress, uncertainty, and new norms of COVID-19 have had a major impact on mental health.
“Mental health, more than ever, needs to stop being stigmatized and instead lead the conversation,” Jackson said.
Because many people, especially leaders, are expected to push feelings of anxiety and depression down, they are starting to feel fatigued.
“We’re really seeing a lot of our leaders are tired,” Jackson said. “They’re tired not just physically. They’re tired emotionally.”
Additionally, women and mothers are often dealing with an extra level of responsibility. They are feeling increasingly fatigued having to balance a full-time job and roles at home, including helping with virtual school work. Having a sustained desire to try to be the best in all situations adds additional stress.
The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) community is also dealing with an increased level of stress. Because we have raised our level of consciousness as it pertains to anti-racism efforts in our country, it can be difficult to manage this commentary and social dialogue while navigating the pandemic and all previously necessary responsibilities.
Jackson recommends three techniques for being a solid leader during these stressful times.
- Do more listening. If your team member is underperforming, especially if it is a previous high-performer, there is something going on that they may not feel comfortable talking to you about. Make it clear you’re not expecting perfect right now, and seek to understand.
- There is no substitute for community. Look for innovative ways to create community for your team. This isn’t a strategy meeting. Create “water cooler” or personal, open discussion opportunities.
- Allow your team to be innovative. If they need to shift schedules and work around their children’s school schedules or other personal priorities now, try to allow it. Your team is way more creative than you ever imagined.
As a colleague, you also can make an impact on your co-workers. Taking meetings offline and on the phone can allow team members to take in fresh air. Everyone can be looking for ways to create connections.