Tough leading

There is something you can do as a leader to make things feel less daunting.

Leadership at the moment is super tough. Shifting rules and regulations, heightened levels of anxiety, alert levels and lock-downs, staff isolating, remote working. We only lack four horsemen riding by to complete the apocalypse.

Every day there seems to be a new mountain to climb. But there is something you can do as a leader to make that feel less daunting, and it comes from some research carried out on … mountains. More accurately on hills. There are several things that can change how easy or difficult we think a hill would be to climb and one of them is whether we assess it alone or with others. If we face a challenging hill we see it as easier to climb if we look at it with other people. This is also true if we are alone and assess the hill while just thinking of other people. Our perception is changed by our thoughts of others, not just their presence.

So if you are looking to conquer a particular challenge at work, then looking at it with other team members, or bringing them to mind while you assess it can help. Putting an emphasis on being a part of a team does not just mean there are people to share the workload. It actually changes how you see the size of challenges before you.

I’m not really surprised by the findings. We are social creatures and relationships are psychologically important to us. This is why it is one of the mainstays of Positive Psychology and the PERMA model (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment).

The meaning part of PERMA can also help in stressful times. When you find meaning in what you do, the impact of the stress is reduced. Even though the situation itself has not changes, you are less affected by it in terms of your wellbeing. And the meaning does not have to be something grand or on a world stage. It may be how you are helping colleagues or playing your part to the best of your ability. However you make your contribution, find a way of reminding yourself that what you are doing matters. The pandemic has given us a lovely reminder of the vital role of those whose work we may have overlooked previously from shop assistants to delivery drivers. Try looking at what you do that that same lens of appreciation.

Finally remember this: your track record of surviving bad days so far in your life is 100%.

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