Let me share a story about Larry. Larry is a dentist and owns a large dental practice. For all intents and purposes, his business has been shut down for a while. His team members are all up to date on how his practice response will proceed. He has spoken individually to each of his team on the phone and talked through all their questions and concerns. Larry cares deeply about his team and together they have created an amazing environment at his office. He feels good about his team’s response to the situation.
Then Larry held a Zoom team meeting to explain his strategy for opening the office and everyone returning to work. Dentists are in the Health Care industry, so his team is educated and accustomed to handling disease situations. Probably 30-some people in the Zoom session. He explained things in great detail and then waited to answer questions they might have.
He waited for questions, but what he got was an emotional outpouring of fear. Fear shows up in different ways with different people. Some of them burst into tears and couldn’t even ask questions. Some became defiant, saying he couldn’t make them return to work. It was a long, difficult conversation. The thought of coming back to work terrified his team members.
How could Larry have mis-read his team so badly? How could he have assumed that they would be grounded in the same confidence and security that he was?
What saved Larry was seeing their body language on the Zoom call. Hearing the fear in their voices. Watching their eyes, their hands. Watching them shake their heads and look away from the camera.
This reaction … our reaction … to this pandemic isn’t based on logic. Remember, we make our decisions based on emotion … and then back that decision up with logic.
All this is to say there is still a huge amount of fear out there. Remember that assumptions will sometimes get you into trouble. Remember also that your reaction to the fear you see in others could be compassion. Compassion for yourself and for your team. We want to exude strong leadership … but that leadership can be delivered with compassion and support.
How can you check in on your team and work to really understand how they are feeling right now? Let’s share some ideas to get better in touch with the emotions that drive our decision-making … as well as those decisions made by our team members.
Scroll down and let me know one approach you find useful in staying connected with your team at a time like this.
We are better together. Let’s do this!