Coping During a Crisis

During this time of crisis, with so much out of our control, how can Success-Minded leaders cope?

In my interviews with hundreds of leaders at the top of their field, it was clear that they shared a common perspective. The key they repeatedly shared with me was the importance of managing their mindset during a crisis.

Today, with the world facing the same crisis together: the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are witnessing fear and panic spreading faster than the virus.

Researchers have found that fear in the workplace is contagious. We pick up other people’s reactions and take them on as our own – all without consciously realizing we are doing it.

Mindsets, both positive and negative, can spread among employees like viruses. And this has a real potential impact to your organization.

Sigal Barsade, PhD, Management Professor at The Wharton School, has conducted research into positive and negative mindsets becoming contagious at work. She shares that leaders can unconsciously spread their negative or positive reactions to their team. And the impact on your team can be significant. For example,
Dr. Barsade’s research found that the impact of the spread of negative emotions impairs employees’ judgement and business decisions.

The good news is that a positive contagion can spread as rapidly as a negative one and the impact is very beneficial. Research demonstrates when a positive, compassionate mindset is adopted, teams display more cooperation, less interpersonal conflict, and perform better on their tasks than groups in which negative emotions were spread by the leader.

As leaders we can impact the spread of psychological contagions. Self-leadership is more crucial than ever. Accessing our innate Success Factors Mindsets of Positive Thinking and Compassion comes down to the decisions we make. This is beautifully illustrated by the following story.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is negative–he is fear and worry.”

He continued, “The other is positive – compassion and hope.”

The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

As leaders, we are reminded to regularly ask ourselves, which wolf am I feeding?