These are turbulent and, for many, traumatic times. Health fears, economic fears, volatility, uncertainty … in total, it’s like nothing we’ve experienced.
This is a time for leadership. And if you’re reading this, then it’s very likely you’re an organizational leader. This is your time.
People’s psyches are emotionally charged. Know that the effects of what you communicate and how you communicate will be amplified because of it. The right messaging has the potential to connect deeply and be remembered for a long time. And the wrong messaging has the potential to connect deeply and be remembered for a long time. Your messaging is critical. Here are three touchstones to guide you:
In traumatic times it’s critical that you first connect with people at a human level. Show them that you care! Find out how they are feeling, how their loved ones are doing, what pressures they are dealing with. Whether you can help or not, what’s most important is to be compassionate and show that you care.
In the face of uncertainty, people are anxious to know what is happening and what is likely to happen. Establish a regular cadence for providing updates, such as daily or weekly. A cadence offers at least some level of certainty in an uncertain time. Be open, candid and measured about what you know, what you don’t know, what you believe and why. Being credible is key, and will help to reduce their anxiety.
3) Provide hope
Your messaging can leave people feeling hopeful or helpless. How do you make sure it’s hopeful? Not through hollow statements such as, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be okay.” They need specifics: What are the next steps? Who will be involved? How will taking those steps help? When people believe that positive steps are being taken, it gives them comfort that leaders are leading, and hope that things will improve.
As a leader, this is your time. You will be judged by your messaging. Be mindful, be intentional. Empathize, inform, and provide hope.
Make it happen.
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