This week we continue with part two of what it means to effectively lead through the COVID-19 crisis. You can read or review part 1 here.
Staying grounded in the organization’s guiding principles is especially difficult during a crisis. Emotions seem to be especially raw during COVID-19. It has a lot to do with lockdowns, quarantines, adapting our daily routines to meet ever-changing safety guidelines — I could go on and on.
Many of us are attempting to handle more with less; more stress, more change, more demands, with less sleep, less exercise, and less support. With emotions close to the boiling point, and support systems missing or minimally inadequate during COVID-19, it’s time to revisit the guiding principles that keep us grounded.
The principles that guide us also keep us grounded. Guiding principles serve as an anchor, keeping the vessel (YOU and ME) steady during the storm.
For example, when my business partner, Marty Hudson and I founded MedicalGPS, we prayerfully, diligently, and intentionally sought to launch MedicalGPS founded on six uncompromising guiding principles.
That was more than 17 years ago. To this day we include and commit to those same, unchanging six guiding principles every time we sign a new contract and enter into a partnership agreement.
A Foundation of Six
If you’re already a MedicalGPS client, or if we ever have the pleasure of doing business with you in the future, here’s how we declare our commitment to support those that we have the opportunity to serve.
“MGPS was founded on certain uncompromising guiding principles and is committed to servicing our clients and their affiliates with the highest degree of integrity, honesty, fairness, faithfulness, reliability, and dependability.”
Merriam-Webster define each as follows.
1. Integrity: a) firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility, b) an unimpaired condition, soundness, c) the quality or state of being complete or undivided, completeness.
2. Honesty: a) adherence to the facts, sincerity, b] fairness and straightforwardness of conduct
3. Fairness: a) especially fair or impartial treatment, b) lack of favoritism toward one side or another
4. Faithfulness: a) steadfast in affection or allegiance, loyal, b) firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty, conscientious, c) given with strong assurance, binding, d) true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original, e) full of faith
5. Reliability: a) the quality or state of being reliable, b) the extent to which an experiment, test, or measuring procedure yields the same results on repeated trials
6. Dependability: a) capable of being trusted or depended, reliable
As I revisited our guiding principles while writing for this BLOG, it occurred to me that I think about integrity often in terms of being strong and steady — more like structural integrity. The type of integrity needed to keep a tall building standing in the face of high winds or an earthquake, or a suspension bridge having enough integrity to withstand constant heavy loads, even under harsh external weather conditions.
So, what might shake us to the point we can no longer stand strong? How about the uncertainty of the future brought about by COVID-19?
When leadership fails to envision a prosperous future for the organization and lacks the ability to communicate that vision in a way that motivates those around them, uncertainty is like a small cancer that may, when left untreated, metastasize into full-blown anxiety.
Uncertainty’s Connection to Anxiety
According to Dr. Katya Fernandez, Research Scientist for the Center for Creative Leadership, COVID-19 has surfaced many distressing feelings.
“For many, a plethora of distressing feelings have emerged: anxiety, worry, fear, frustration, sadness, anger, panic, helplessness, uncertainty, skepticism, confusion, stress, and even loss. And of course, these feelings don’t just linger in the pit of our stomachs. They ripple out and impact how we behave, how we treat others, even how we see the world.”
Stay the Course
While we obviously cannot control the external pressures associated with COVID-19, there are some practical coping mechanisms that we can use to take care of ourselves and stay the course.
In the article titled, “9 Tips for Dealing With Uncertainty & Anxiety Right Now”, Dr. Katya expounds on the following nine techniques.
1. Be honest with yourself.
2. Challenge anxiety-driven, distressing thoughts.
3. Look on the bright side.
4. Focus on what you can control.
5. Practice mindfulness by being aware and intentional.
6. Take action through value-driven behaviors.
7. Start a gratitude journal.
8. Find new ways to connect with others.
9. Infuse your day with physical activity.
Grounded and Embracing the Future
Similar to MedicalGPS, I am sure your organization has a similar set of guiding principles. If you have not already, it would serve you and your team well to revisit and embrace those grounding, anchor-principles as you lead your team, even now, through COVID-19’s stormy turbulence into what can be a very bright future.
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Jerry L. Stone