Leader, when last did you have your temperature taken?
Most countries around the world have implemented body temperature checks at most if not all (social or other) gathering points. Like most of us, I can’t escape a sense of light anxiety (either from a little uneasiness about the outcome or the mild irritation at the intrusion of my personal space) when a temperature ‘gun’ is stuck in my face. Lighter moments are had when on a single day of gym, shopping, having coffee, and so on, my temperature has been ‘recorded’ at anything between 34˚ and 37+˚C`.
Sadly, measured accurately or not, a real case of Covid-19 doesn’t just affect body temperature.
For business leaders, Covid-19 has brought extraordinary and sometimes unsurmountable challenges to keep their businesses afloat as markets plummet or disappear altogether overnight.
No wonder leaders are taking strain like never before and with that a large possibility that their emotional intelligence is under fire. Such an attack mustn’t be taken lightly. Lowered emotional intelligence affects one’s ability to lead, inspire and communicate positively with those around you, just when it’s needed most. Bad outcomes of diminished leadership add only more stress. It can easily become a vicious circle.
Employees too experience large amounts of stress – be it about the security of their employment, their finances or the well-being of their loved ones. Such amount of personal pressure and emotion can’t be left outside the office when one comes to work. Humans are just not wired like that. Stressed leaders and stressed employees make for a perfect storm of deteriorating engagement levels.
The first victim is productivity because of among other a lack of concentration, increased absenteeism and low motivation. The second victim is inter-personal communication that quickly leads to inter-departmental friction as patience runs low and work pressure rises by the day. Remote working doesn’t exactly add to a feeling of belonging, estranging employees even further. An organisation can overheat before you know it.
Now more than ever, leaders must look after themselves. A strong leader is needed in order to lower the temperature of their organisations. This requires an increase in the amount of engagement and communication with staff. That means fewer hours behind a computer screen and more hours ‘on the floor’. It means more listening than talking. It means more encouragement and less criticism. Does this require working longer hours for you? Not necessarily. With proper time management, it’s amazing how much time can be freed up. Work smarter. Not harder.
‘Easier said than done.’ But there’s little choice. Stress will swallow you whole if you’re not careful. It’s vital that we now take our own ‘temperature’ regularly and that we seek help if it all becomes overwhelming. A business coach can be of great assistance in how to prioritise, improve your time management skills, restore resilience and optimism. A wellness practitioner and medical doctor are there to help you with stress management tools and medical intervention if necessary. This quote from U.S politician Kevin McCarthy sums it up nicely:
“There are two different types of leaders. A person can either be like a thermometer or a thermostat. A thermometer will tell you what the temperature is. A thermostat will not only tell you what the temperature is, but it’ll move you to the temperature you need to get to.”