As part of my work with a client, we’re starting to look at the true consequences of the pandemic and its subsequent effects on professional's mental health. From initial research, our audience in Australasia has dealt with the requirements of lockdowns and restrictions generally well when compared to the northern hemisphere. This is obvious given the difference in restrictions we have.
What stands out is that, perhaps for the first time ever, leadership and C-suite individuals are being encouraged to voice their vulnerability and share decisions with their wider team.
You only need to spend a few moments on Simon Sinek or Ryan Holiday’s page to see that a recurring theme from these figures is encouraging (and allowing) leaders to be vulnerable.
This sort of discussion point is famously studied by Brené Brown - who has one of the most watched Ted Talks on the topic.
But for leaders, it seems the expectations from staff make this necessary competency perhaps harder to accept than any other.
While leaders should consider how they’re sharing honest feedback and considerations, so too should their team when raising concerns.
One key driver for why this isn't happening is that people tend to assume that their superior has all the answers. That because they’re in this position and leading the company, they must know everything.
The truth of the matter is that many don’t. It’s always going to be impossible to know direction when even the government find this situation alien and unknown.
No true leader wants to let their team down and because of this, they often make fewer decisions to keep things purposefully simple. This lack of movement can come off as meaningless to those not paying attention to the details.
Simon Sinek's advice is to consider how they’re voicing their own personal experience during company meetings or vulnerable moments.
Vulnerability actually requires unbelievable strength to do. It requires vulnerability to come into a meeting and say ‘I’m struggling with this covid thing. I’m not sleeping and I fear that I’m not there for you guys’....that requires unbelievable strength to say that to someone.
It’s totally fine for a leader to say, ‘I don’t know what the future looks like, I have a vision, I think I know what it’ll take to get there, but I know I can’t do it all, and I know it’ll take all of us’
It’s all about empathy. We’re all people, and mental health really matters, no matter titles.
Without question, I’m seeing people forget this, forgetting that not everyone has the answers. Tensions are high during uncertain times and while it’s easier to provide blame and criticism, it takes a special sort of individual to first look for solutions to offer.
My advice here is when you feel you’re about to get annoyed at the lack of answers to a problem you’ve discovered, stop, reflect, and ask yourself one thing:
Could I be the one with the answer?
Because you never know, your expertise and intelligence could be just what the doctor ordered this year.