How to Lead in Survival Mode:

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Gallup Poll recently sent out a post that sited the top four things that individuals are looking for at this moment. The global study of What Followers Want found that what 7 billion citizens’ demand of those that are leading, is the need to lead, “with (1) compassion, (2) stability, (3) trust, and (4) hope and inspiration for the future.”

It is great to hear those that are following and listen to their needs. The question that comes up from this is — “How?” How do leaders lead with compassion or show compassion within the events and planning? How do we establish stability, and create and maintain trust? How can a leader add hope and inspire followers for the future?

The demands laid out within the Gallup article are what is expected of world leaders but if we really dig in we can see that our small business or even within our local communities, individuals are looking for the same things. As we continue to look within our own lives we can see that often these same things are asked of us by our families.

(1) Compassion

Webster’s dictionary defines Compassion as “a suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration.” I believe that if we put this in simple terms, it is that people want to know that you understand them, that you hear them, and that you are able to relate to what they are feeling. Compassion is communicating with them on their level, not some lofty tower in the sky.

As leaders, we often attempt to hide where we have come from. We don’t allow the challenges and the hard times we have gone through to show in a transparent way. Leaders insulate themselves, putting on a façade that separates them from anyone else that is struggling. Leaders will often dismiss many of their struggles as no big deal for fear that it will hurt their reputation, when in reality, the opposite is true. By embracing what we struggle with, and sharing some of the challenges we have been through, it will add that level of empathy, showing others compassion through this process.

It is not wrong to “weep with those that are weeping”. This doesn’t make you less of a leader, it will form a bond with those that you are leading that will create an intensity of loyalty that is truly amazing. Take the time to reach out, and to be touched by the emotions of others. When you are able to show compassion, you relate to another person’s soul. Gaining that connection on a level that will increase your ability to lead through many different types of challenges.

(2) Stability

We have often heard many of our leaders talk about creating stability in other countries, which allows the citizens to have a more stable living environment. It should be no surprise that this is what those within our influence are asking for as well.
Most individuals find stability within their comfort zone. They rarely want to change or move out of that comfort zone unless it’s an absolute must for survival. Then, as soon as they know they are able to survive, they will want to move back into their comfort zone. It is a natural thing for many to want to live within a safe and stable environment.

While we are unable to control all the aspects that create a stable comfort zone, we are able to show confidence as a leader that there is a clear path through the challenge. The more that a leader is able to display a confident plan, the more stable people will feel as they walk through a crisis. Be wise in how you approach those you influence.

(3) Trust

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.” Mahatma Gandhi
Stephen M. R. Covey wrote a fabulous book called The Speed of Trust. The essence of this book discusses how to build and manage the trust. One of the most important things to note from this is the way that trust will have an impact on everything you do and say. The more individuals trust each other, the faster we are able to move, and the less it will cost. The opposite is true as well. The fewer individuals trust each other, the slower an organization will move and the more it will cost to make the changes. During our times of crisis, you will need to rely on trust that has already been built and focus on how to build more trust with those that you are leading.

Trust is created through consistency within your message and actions. During times when there is a lot of questions, those following you want to know that they can trust what you are directing them towards. This is the time for transparency and the pooling of ideas. They are not always looking for answers to the unknown future, but they are looking for a leader that is focusing on the facts and addressing the concerns that are present. This separation of fact from fiction is one of the greatest challenges that we have as leaders in the digital age. Our social media and news media have created mass volumes of information and not all of it is factual. Some are well-intended but some are purposefully misleading. Leaders must learn how to discern between facts and fiction. By doing this it will lead to more people to trust your leadership.

The other aspect of building trust is in how you are reacting to the situation. Approaching the challenge in a level-headed, calm manner allows the panic to settle. It allows for clear thought to prevail and then leads to those looking to you as a trusted leader. Allow yourself the moment to breathe in the face of the challenge. Taking a moment to stop and think, will show you a different perspective that may not be seen during a panicked moment.

(4) Hope and Inspiration for the future

Victor Frankl, a leading psychologist, who was in concentration camps during WWII, wrote extensively about hope in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. One of the more interesting observations, coming from his life experience, is that he could tell when an individual had given up hope. It was within a few days that they would stop the daily activities and, eventually, allow themselves to fade away.

Hope is a powerful emotion that can sustain us through some of the greatest challenges. Hope that our future will be better. Hope that the challenge will be for a short time. Hope that our experiences will teach us lessons that will give us greater strength.

As you craft your plan and adapt to overcome the challenge, it must inspire those following to believe that the future will be better than what they are currently experiencing. Your mission is to create a realistic vision of the future, which creates hope within your followers. By creating a realistic vision, you build more trust. By matching the actions with the words you build out the vision for the future.

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