Coach Yourself Through a Crisis

Before I became a coach, I was in crisis management. I thought it might be helpful if I distilled some of my learnings from my old world of working with leaders under intense pressure, into how you can coach yourself in a situation when you may feel as if you need to have the answers to everyone else’s questions, as well as your own. 

No doubt your organisation’s crisis management plans have been deployed and you are immersed in all things CMT, IMT and business continuity. Whilst this is happening it is easy to become mentally swamped by the sheer enormity of the task and frozen into inaction by the constantly changing landscape in which you are trying to take business critical decisions. If you manage to do the following three things, most of the time, you will help yourself and your team and develop the habits required to ride the storm:

1.    Take back time and space to think 

Nothing says act like a crisis. But, paradoxically, the first thing you need to do (and keep doing) is to stop and take a step back and start to manage the crisis, rather than let it manage you. Carve out time and space to think through the basics: 

·      What is my role and that of my team?

·      What are our strategic objectives for the short, medium and long term?

·      What principles and criteria are guiding our decision making? 

·      What is business critical and what can be parked?

·      What are the best, worst and base case scenarios we need to work to?

These answers will create the decision-making framework you need and help you start to consider the steps required to the new version of the future.  If you can, try and write down your three personal objectives for the day every morning. It doesn’t matter how small they are, achieving them will help give you a sense of control over your day. 

2.    Stay in your lane

The more senior you are, the more likely it is that others are looking to you for the answers on everything and anything. However, it is likely that your role is more strategy than operations and tempting though it is to get lured into the brief satisfaction of taking tactical action it is unlikely to be a good use of your time and mental energy. Remember your role is to focus on the scenarios and solutions relating to the medium and long term issues. If you exhaust yourself with the short-term you will not have the energy you need to lead into the long-term. 

3.    Identify your release valves and energy boosts

Senior often equals lonely. Particularly at times like these. The requirement to demonstrate effective leadership and keep your head, whilst others are losing theirs, requires huge amounts of mental and emotional energy. In a public health crisis, home may not hold the answer either. Establish now the release valves and energy boosts you know work for you and prioritise them. Whether its exercise, meditation or a coach (!), your ability to lead with calmness for an extended period is dependent on them. 

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