Laura Gordon

I’ve been planning for some weeks now to talk about energy – specifically, the ways in which your energy impacts those around you.

I never imagined, however, that our world would have changed so dramatically by the time I put pen to paper on the topic.

COVID-19 is dominating our news headlines, our daily lives and our every thought.

We’ve just marked a Mother’s Day unlike any other, where even the Prime Minister felt compelled to urge people to stay away from their families on a day that usually brings them together.

Not only are some of our nearest and dearest being told to isolate themselves for three months, but the nation is now in lockdown – even for families living just a few miles apart, the distance between them has never felt greater.

So when it comes to our energy, I’m sure many of us have never felt more robbed of it – worried, anxious and emotionally drained.

At times like these, for those businesses fortunate enough to be able to continue operating, there is immense pressure on those in leadership positions.

Their energy can have a profound impact on those around them. A leader who is flapping, showing their distress and worry, face to face or remotely, will inevitably affect their workforce.

It will engender a feeling of panic across the workforce instead of providing trust and reassurance.

Therefore it’s never been so important to be proactive, create a plan of action and behave positively so those around you gain confidence from your actions.

I spoke recently to the head of a not for profit organisation which expects to be more in demand than ever during this current crisis, and she hit the nail on the head.

She told me: “I know everyone around me is worried so my role right now isn’t just managing our workload – I need to keep my colleagues calm, listen to their worries and reassure them by keeping them informed about the steps we’re taking to address the current challenges.

“Don’t get me wrong – when I go home at night I offload all my own worries on my partner as I’m feeling the stress too – but in the workplace I need to keep myself and my team focussed on the positive way forward and make sure they know they’re cared about and supported.”

Not so long ago, when the tragic news broke about Caroline Flack, it didn’t take long for #bekind to start trending on Twitter.

It’s sad that it took such a heart-breaking turn of events to remind people about this simple and important message.

But it’s also a beautiful thing about human nature – often in a crisis it brings out people’s best qualities. Compassion, kindness, helpfulness, patience and goodwill.

These qualities have never been so important in the workplace. Show up with an intention of being kind and good to those around you, and show your appreciation and gratitude. That applies in a virtual work environment just as much.

By creating a culture of positivity you’ll contribute to a better working environment, decrease stress and anxiety, and you’ll feel the positive effects of this too. And those around you, physically and virtually will emulate this and spread that positivity further.

And be flexible. Workers at all levels are facing dramatic change – do all that is reasonably possible to support them as they find themselves having to work from home or to juggle childcare now our schools are closed.

If your people are working remotely, keep up that team spirit and ensure everyone feels connected. Use group video calls, Skype or Zoom conferences or WhatsApp chat groups – anything that’s at your disposal to maintain that sense of unity. Have “coffee breaks”, build some fun into the day.

I’ve never heard the phrase “we’re all in this together” more often and while it sounds like a cliché it is so true. Businesses and individuals must keep remembering this and continue to be as supportive and kind as possible as we prepare for ever more challenging times.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs.