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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Martine


Last night I was doing a coaching session with a Director of a large organisation to explore how best to manage his team now all his staff had been sent home to work remotely. My suggestion was: Now is the time for you to lean in and get up close and personal. Albeit at a safe distance through a computer screen.

For us all to lean in and get up close and personal.

For us to be really present to each other. For us to demonstrate genuine heartfelt care with our workmates, family and friends. For us to really listen to and hear how people are feeling at the moment. And for us to continue to do so.

If we simply self-isolate and send people home with laptops saying, 'Here you are. You're all good to go now!', and expect things to continue on, business as usual, with all the normal tasks being done as they used to be, we risk ignoring our own humanness. And it's our humanness right now that's most vulnerable and at risk.

Everyone is going through uncertainty and change. So it helps if we can take the time to lean in and ask ourselves and the people we're connected with, 'How are you feeling? How are you managing? How can I assist you? Is there anything you need?'

For two reasons: Firstly, so no one feels they have to go through this experience on their own; and Secondly, so our emotional energy doesn't become suppressed in ways that then makes our lives more difficult.

Like through tightened shoulders, teeth grinding, or interrupted sleep patterns in response to the stress. Through comfort eating, excess alcohol consumption, or drug usage to cope with the anxiety. Through distraction, difficulty focusing and lost productivity as we try to process what is happening. Through angry outbursts and shortened fuses because things feel out of our control. Through hopelessness, depression and despair because of feelings of powerlessness.

We are each leaders in our own sphere of influence. Be that within our work group, our shared household, our family, our community group, or simply in our own life. As a leader, it helps to recognise we are humans first, and do'ers second. And as humans first, we can find it difficult to cope with uncertainty as it tends to trigger our survival fears and cause us to react in ways that can limit us when it comes to the 'doing' part.

Being willing to lean in, to connect at the heart, to genuinely appreciate each other and how we might be feeling during this time of change and uncertainty, helps us to realise we're not in this alone, that we are able to share the load, and that together we can assist and support each other so we can move forward individually and collectively.

Social distancing can lead to emotional distancing. Which is why overlooking our emotional state and not leaning in with our workmates, family and friends to acknowledge and really feel where people are at, risks doing ourselves and each other a dis-service.

As we adjust to the ongoing challenges, perhaps the greatest service we can offer each other right now is to be vulnerable, lean in, and connect with ourself and each other from the heart. Even if that means having revealing conversations with people we might ordinarily keep a 'safe' distance from. Perhaps that's the irony? By keeping a greater physical distance between each other we might actually become closer and more connected in the heartfelt sense. At least that's one of the opportunities being presented to us if we are willing to lean in :)))


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