Social Impact Leadership in a Time of Uncertainty
Pearl Street Collective recently convened a small group of social impact leaders to discuss how to adapt their leadership styles in light of COVID-19 and its effect on their employees, themselves, and their mission. The conversation was facilitated by leadership expert Wendy Woolfork of The Purpose Walk.
The Psychology of Crisis Leadership
At the core of crisis leadership is acknowledgment of distress without giving in to powerlessness. Similar to how parents help their children learn and play, face hardship and sustain hope – they do not shelter their children from distress, but they provide buffering so the children can process and manage to the change. Leaders do so through a principle referred to as “holding”:
- Provide reassurance that an employee’s work is viable.
- Enable your people to face hardship, master new conditions, and grow, stretch and develop in the process.
- Inform your team of any changes you see coming based on the forecast right now.
- Communicate your key priorities as you look at your value proposition and modify it.
- Offer informed interpretations, dispel rumors, and encourage people to participate even more as you talk about what could change, enabling ideation.
Life after COVID-19 will soon become a reality. Let people remember your sincere concern and recall being held through the change. Take these moments of uncertainty as opportunities to learn, develop, and innovate. Demonstrate your maturity as a leader and advance your leadership by serving the people who are helping to achieve mission objectives and goals, convey a consistent and confident executive presence, lean into personal and professional reinvention-which is vital at this time-and pull your people near – it will serve you well.