Covid-19: Good Leadership During Anxious Times

by | Articles

WOW, what a week!  One minute we are thinking about March Madness and by the time we went to bed, the NCAA had cancelled the rest of the basketball season, President Trump announced a travel ban from Europe, Broadway was closing down for a month, and our kids have an extended spring break.

During this week many of us are thinking about how our business will be impacted. We all know that a company is only as good as its people. And your leaders are going to guide your people through this economic shift.

What Do Superstar Leaders Do When Anxiety is High?

Let’s talk about toilet paper.

Why are people buying and hoarding so much toilet paper?

Have you ever lost your balance? You instinctively reach out for something solid – a wall, a handrail, the person next to you – to stabilize yourself.

That is why people are buying so much toilet paper. They are being asked to change a great deal in their lives. It is all disorienting:

Work from home. Don’t shake hands or hug your friends. Stop visiting your elderly parents. Don’t socialize. Quarantine yourself.

They are feeling off-balance. People are not wired to change so many behaviors all at once. People are reaching for toilet paper and other stuff to help them feel more stable, to give themselves a feeling of being “in control.” 

Leaders can provide stability by giving people a sense of control and perspective.


Remind people of the things they can control, which will help them and others:

  • Hand-washing and social distancing. Keeping themselves safe so that they can keep others safe.
  • Their mental health: it’s okay to laugh and keep a light heart.


Remind people that:

  • We have been through hard times before; we will get through this
  • You are not alone; we’re in this together
  • People are incredible, resilient, amazing, and creative. We have always figured out a way forward
  • Although information and news is changing quickly, we don’t have to track all of it, all the time. We also need to get our work done, be a good partner, spouse, sibling, parent, coworker, etc. We can check the news 2-3 times a day instead of 40 times.
When the going gets tough, real leaders show up.  Pay close attention.

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