Let’s face it; most leaders are one Reese’s Pieces away from a nervous breakdown. The coronavirus may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for most women who are already stressed out and overwhelmed in their professional lives. Those who are maxed out in their personal lives trying to be everything for everyone, doing a litany of household work, and running endless errands. Then, feeling guilty for not being able to show up fully at home, while feeling resentful for being overlooked and underappreciated at work.
Does this sound like you?
The pandemonium surrounding the coronavirus can drive most normal people insane, but for leaders who are already at a tipping point, this may be the one thing that will push you over the edge.
I’ve been working with several international clients where the coronavirus was earlier this year. We immediately increased their self-care regimen to keep them calm and with a clear head. By actively working to manage their stress in these unprecedented times, they have significantly increased their performance.
They’ve made MASSIVE strategic moves to get to the next level because they are working with a clear head and can focus on the priorities of their organizations. Their teams have followed, and while everyone is going in circles, they are being recognized by their organization’s top leaders. They’re rapidly gaining a competitive edge over their peers and are building a strong reputation in their global industry.
There are always opportunities in a crisis, and while I’m not downplaying the magnitude of this moment, where will you be when the smoke clears? Most people will be disoriented and will wait to see where they end up. I encourage you to consider using the insight in this article to make strategic moves to propel yourself higher in your organization and increase your visibility in your industry.
Be A Leader That People Would Love To Follow
Right now, leaders are observing the people on their team. How are you showing up? Not only are your senior leaders watching, but your team and peers are watching too. If you’re operating strategically and with a level head, then your team will likely be doing the same.
If you crumble, how can you expect your team to perform at a high level? Why should they be focused on the bigger goal if you’re stuck in the hysteria of today?
Ten years ago, a memo was released in my organization that affected +60 people on my nearly 160-person team. They were sending them home within three months and replacing them with new people. All H*LL broke loose in the office, and I was at a conference in New Orleans.
My senior leader called and requested that I cut my trip short, citing, “We need you and your level head back at the office to manage this.”
I didn’t know that he noticed my “level head” because he never acknowledged it before, but when the crap hits the fan, senior leaders are looking for leaders that can keep a level head and create calm in the chaos when everyone else has seemingly lost their minds.
During the coronavirus crisis and the countless crises before and after it, you’re building your leadership reputation. Your personnel and leaders are watching and labeling you, whether you know it or not.
Will you be the one that they call to come back home to create calm in the chaos or will you be left out because they know you’ll overreact and make matters worse?
Make Self-Care Your Number One Priority
I know, I know… You already know what to do. You’ve read the books and have the checklist, but ladies, let’s be clear. If you want to stay on top of your game and separate yourself from your peers, you need to take care of yourself.
Self-care should already be a priority, but for many women in leadership, it’s not. While 30 percent of women called their Fitbit, “an enemy,” you shouldn’t have to be pressured into taking care of yourself and you can’t keep blaming the men in your organization for holding you back if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to get your peace back.
To bring peace and calm to the chaos, I recommend six habits to incorporate into your weekly routine. I shared them in a Forbes article last year. Put them on an excel spreadsheet and track them to get on top of your game.
1. Exercise for 30 minutes — three times a week.
2. Meditate three times a week for five minutes using a guided meditation. It’s five minutes!!
3. Get eight hours of sleep — three times a week
4. Go home on time, one day a week.
5. Don’t eat at your desk twice a week.
6. Get two massages a month. I usually recommend one, but in times of high stress, increase them to two or three.
Avoid The News
If you’re caught up in the 24-hour news cycle and constant updates on social media, you’re allowing a heavy load of information to be dumped in your head. A study found that our daily word intake is equivalent to 34 gigabytes of information, which is enough to overload the typical laptop within a week.
How much negative information can you absorb without feeling like crap? Right now, everyone on social media is a coronavirus and handwashing expert. How can you think strategically and see the opportunities in your job if you are overloaded with useless information?
Have the discipline to let go of 60% of the information that you’re watching. Consider refraining from tweeting, posting pictures of empty shelves, and sharing handwashing memes, and focus on the next move that you can make. While everyone else is going in circles, you should have a clear vision.
Careers are a chessboard, and although women don’t like to think they have to play a leadership game, you’re either playing the leadership game, or you’re being played. There’s no way around it. You better believe there are people out there making strategic moves right now. They are looking for ways to be innovative and agile and increasing their emotional intelligence so they can be available for opportunities.
Are you making strategic moves, or are you following the masses?
Finding opportunity in the chaos comes down to simply taking care of yourself. If you can reduce some of the stress and overwhelm that you already have and not get entangled in an added layer, you can make power moves to move your career forward.
Christy Rutherford is a high-level business consultant and advisor to executive leaders. Her work closes the promotion gap for exceptional women. Christy is a Harvard Business School Alumna, certified Executive Leadership Coach from Georgetown University and 6-time best-selling author. In addition, she has been interviewed by and featured in Forbes three times. For more details, visit ChristyRutherford.com