Surviving and Thriving as Work Teams Through the Pandemic

Photo by Nick Abrams on Unsplash

What would it take for you to decide to devote an hour of your leadership team’s time to talking about self-care and resilience…every week?  

We believe that regular work team conversation about self-care and resilience may be one of the most high-impact leadership actions of your week, especially now. Specifically, these conversations will be: 

  1. The most impactful team building you can do right now for creating deep personal connection on your team.
  2. The most impactful action you can take as a leader to care for your teams and prepare them to care for their teams.
  3. An easy and high-impact way for you to build an organizational culture around social-emotional health. 
  4. One of the most impactful things you can do to maximize your team’s effectiveness on the job during the pandemic.   

All of this in one hour a week. 

Over the next several weeks, this blog series will prepare you to: 

  • Walk the walk. This kind of leading only works by doing it yourself, both first and conspicuously. 
  • Introduce this kind of meeting to your team and explain the basic frameworks of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Goleman EI’s Four Emotional Drivers that the social-emotional self-care work will be grounded in.   
  • Create the emotionally safe space necessary for your team to do this personal work together. 
  • Lead this kind of meeting with step-by-step instructions and other resources. 
  • Lead your team through a process of self-reflection and goal setting over time.  

First Steps 

To effectively engage your team with this kind of conversation, you have to first prepare yourself.  The preparation is part intellectual and part emotional.   

Intellectual Prep 

First, you need to understand the big ideas about social-emotional self-care and resilience that ground this approach so that you can explain them to your team.  Do not worry, this is not rocket science.  Here is what you need to know:  

What is resilience and how can we nurture it in ourselves? 

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from setbacks and failures big and small. Our capacity for resilience is like a cell phone’s ability to recharge its battery.  We measure a cell phone’s performance  by how long the battery stays charged and how fast it recharges.  Similarly, the greater our capacity for resilience, the more effectively we can manage and the faster we can bounce back when we experience setbacks.  

How do we nurture resilience? 

We all have developed resilience and strategies for emotional recharging throughout our lives.  However, the new stresses of social distancing, remote work and school, and living within the uncertainty and anxiety around the current pandemic context will test our capacity for resilience in new ways.  

The good news is that the more intentionally we live into the practices that recharge our batteries, the happier, healthier and more successful we will be. One of the most helpful models we have found for nurturing resilience was developed by Michele Nevarez, CEO of Goleman EI. 

Life Path  refers to how we recharge our ethical and spiritual batteries. It includes living and working from the values and beliefs that ground us and inspire how we want to show up in the world. For example, on might live and lead with an ethic of service and social justice from the values of integrity and love.  

Well-being refers to how we recharge our physical batteries.  This includes things like sleep, food, exercise, and emotional grounding. 

Relationships recharge our social batteries.  This includes connecting to the people in our lives and work that fill our hearts.  

Self-Expression  refers to recharging our passion batteries.  This includes engaging our talents in the activities that we love to do, like hobbies, the arts, and sports. It also includes the aspects of our work that that give us energy and make us feel like we are realizing our potential.  

Together these drivers are the power sources that recharge our resilience batteries and helps us bounce back from setbacks. We call on these drivers in our personal and professional lives in many different ways. The more we are aware of our drivers, the more we can deliberately live into them.   

Emotional Prep 

Now that you understand the framework of the 4 Emotional Drivers, you are ready for your emotional preparation.  You are going to do the social-emotional self-reflection work that you will ask your team to do first, on your own.   

Take 15-20 minutes to complete this Four Drivers Self-Reflection.  Consider how deliberately you are managing your emotional drivers and think about what you could do to more deliberately nurture resilience in your daily life, particularly in our current Covid-19 context.  

Next Time 

In our next blog we will help you unpack your own 4 Drivers reflection. Then we will prepare you to take the first step in engaging your team.   

Additional Resource 

In the meantime, if you are interested to learn more about why this conversation is so important, and why it all depends on you walking the walk, we recommend this 17-minute video by Dr. Bruce Perry about how emotions are contagious.  Bottom line:  your emotional contagion creates the conditions!