A few thoughts on the global Coronavirus pandemic, inspired by some very thoughtful questions from Roz Lindsay from Engage your Healthcare Leadership. Thank you Roz.

These are extraordinarily stressful times. We are clearly amidst a global crisis. It takes an immeasurable amount of energy to keep our fingers on the pulse. We are constantly scanning the media, press and emerging research articles to continue to formulate and revise our approach. Each day is different.

In most instances, fear is rational and there is good cause for it. We will see a spike in the number of deaths, and need to be very clear that even a day’s delay means that we add to this number.

I urge my colleagues to consider the broader impact this is having on our people. Behavioural psychology dictates that we will do all in our power to maintain a sense of control over each situation we encounter. We also react adversely to any possibility of something being taken away from us. The brawls we see over toilet paper will often relate to both of these basic tenets. This is not the time to judge or criticise. We must understand why certain behaviours occur and modify our environment to address the underlying factors. Naming, shaming and blaming is at best, unhelpful, and at worst, severely harms our nation’s response to this pandemic.

For small businesses, a steady and deliberate investment in staff morale is a priority and leaders must constantly communicate with their teams to ensure that a clear plan is readily available and understood by all. We must also be clear about the level of uncertainty that exists, and provide an empathetic, listening ear as new problems and issues emerge that necessitate quick and decisive action.

This is an important time to use the right language, and the right tones of speech. Chris Voss in his book ‘Never Split the Difference’ speaks of the “Late Night FM DJ Voice”, a downward deflection in speech that alludes a sense that you are in control. Put simply, there are techniques that we can learn that help us to become more effective at communicating. I believe it was Brené Brown, author of ‘Dare to Lead’ that stated, “we are responsible for both what we say and how it lands.” Her thoughts on the power of vulnerability are more relevant now than ever before (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare)

We also must look to examples of positive leadership. Clearly Dr Tony Bartone, Dr Harry Nespolon and Dr Ewen McPhee have been extraordinary in their leadership style, and it is pleasing to watch how well they have handled each situation Australia has encountered this year. These are just a few names amidst many that come to mind at this critical time in Australia’s history. Much to learn.

This is also a time where we must look after the person to the left of us and the person to the right of us, ping Simon Sinek who has taught us this so well in each of his books.

Australians have banded together before, and we know our people are extraordinarily capable of navigating all manner of challenges.

Let’s also not forget to practice and teach self-care and self-compassion. Continue to take those moments to pause, reflect, be present with your loved ones, with yourself. Go for a run, a walk, a swim. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Add colour to your palate, “taste the rainbow”. Personally, I have attended the gym almost every day for the last 2 years, perhaps longer. It has been extraordinary for both my physical and mental health. I’ve now made a conscious and considered decision to set up a gym at home so that I can continue to work out at home, whilst reducing the spread of COVID19. We all have a role to play.

Fasten your seatbelt, it’ll be a bumpy ride. But we’re all in it together, and the plane must land safely for all of us.

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