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Brain circuits

Are you harnessing the pandemic recovery energy? 3 questions to ask

Published 23 March 2021 in Brain circuits • 3 min read

Just like every other phase in the crisis, the recovery burst comes with its own challenges and opportunities for leaders and must be managed correctly, in order to strike a balance between being too hot or too cold. Failing to do so could cause the lid to blow off the pressure cooker.

If you take action now you can turn your and your team’s exhaustion into energy and stay ahead of the curve, ready for when the world welcomes even more normality and others are naturally met with massive energy bursts.

Here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Are you avoiding tough challenges, using the pandemic as a scapegoat?

Revisiting the well-known distinction between what is urgent and what is important that if often used in a crisis situation will, at this stage, encourage you to confront what might be easy to postpone.

It may sound self-evident, but it is amazing just how much entire organizations avoid facing up to the toughest challenges ahead. One reason is our natural response to crises: we become short-sighted and push aside all that is not urgent. Once we have fixed what is urgent, we feel we deserve a good rest. But not forever! So, be wary if you can still hear yourself saying, “When COVID-19 is over, we will address this problem.”

2. Are you being as compassionate as you could be?

There is a balance to be had between containment and compassion. And in a crisis, you need to dial up the latter.

Containment might mean taking tasks off peoples’ tables. As a leader, it is your responsibility to tell people to take time off and to set the example by doing so yourself too.  

Being compassionate involves asking your team what their sanctuary is – their “go-to” place for energy and joy. They might have lost touch with this, and it’s also a good way to bond as a team.

But if you overdo compassion, you risk pushing people into the learned helplessness trap. In essence it’s about combining being caring and understanding with being a bit strict.

Are you being understanding and sensitive towards other people’s signals, just as much as you are being crystal clear about expectations? Because that’s where psychological safety lies.

3. Do you make an effort to energize yourself and those around you daily?

Energy is not a given and must be generated and channeled internally. The opposite is falling into the trap of accepting that meetings are sometimes stale or boring.

Take 30 seconds now to brainstorm ways you could energize your teams and then compare your ideas with the suggestions below:

  • Share success stories
  • Set up competitions
  • Divide long projects into sprints
  • Shorten Zoom meetings
  • Cut tumbleweed projects

Allow constructive conflicts and honest feedback in your teams

Start an “energy ripple effect”: Remember the contagious energy of the Duracell bunny? With a bit of conscious effort, you can start to spread something similar yourself. How? Double up on praise, recognition and feedback. You do can almost anything when you are recognized for your work and are told why.

But do remember: how you do it matters less than the fact you do it!

Feel free to add your comments on your own ideas and how energizing others has been working for you in the Comments below.

Further reading:

Discover more by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg on how to lead when your team is exhausted. 



Merete Wedellsborg

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

Adjunct Professor at IMD

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in organizational psychology. As an executive advisor, she has more than two decades of experience developing executive teams and leaders. She runs her own business psychology practice with industry-leading clients in Europe and the US in the financial, pharmaceutical, consumer products and defense sectors, as well as family offices. Merete is the author of the book Battle Mind: How to Navigate in Chaos and Perform Under Pressure.


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