leader looks into ocean

Increasing ROI through a proven leadership framework 

leader looks into ocean

Making our businesses efficient and effective are a key part of our everyday lives. And so increasing ROI should always be top of mind—but there’s only so many new skills and operations tactics that can help, in the long run. 

Where we see a lot of companies finding success in that gap between where they are today and greater ROI is with their leadership teams; both on an individual and organization level. 

The proven leadership framework of Conscious Leadership can be the gamechanger. 

How the 4A’s of Conscious Leadership impact effectiveness

Awareness 

Awareness is the first of ORCA’s 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership. Why? Because if an organization is aware of the issues that are impacting its overall effectiveness, then they can actually do something about it. 

Like individuals, organizations are often not aware of the things that are having the impact on their effectiveness. By illuminating and bringing awareness to your organization’s effectiveness, it allows you the element of choice. “How do I raise awareness around what my leadership culture and strengths are?” is an important question. 

Calibrate against external benchmarks; how does your organization compare with the best of leadership in other organizations in research-based assessments? The next benchmark to set would be where you are vs. where you could be. Top quartile? Bottom quartile? It gives you a relative place to start with. Assess what our future desired state is based on what we have to execute as an organization? What is the strategy we need to deliver? You can see where the gap is. 

That’s going to have the biggest impact in terms of your competitive advantage because your business cannot be more effective than its sum total of the leadership. 

Acknowledgement 

Once you are aware, which ones will have the most impact? What are we going to take ownership of to move forward? 

What would be most important to focus on that can have the greatest impact? Correlations between variables between leadership competencies and behaviors have the actual greatest impact on effectiveness and therefore ROI. This process can be accomplished when looking at an individual’s growth or an organization’s. 

Action 

What action are you going to take? You can have wonderful assessments and take ownership of the results, but if you do nothing, nothing will change. 

Is there the will to change? For example, if I have a very large gap between where I am today and where I need to be, there’s going to be a lot more work to get there. Be honest with yourself and your organization about if you’re ready to really put the effort into it. 

Adaptation 

If you put an action plan into place, you then have to revisit that and say, “Is this action plan having the desired effect or having effects we didn’t even think it would have?” Look to see if your action plan is having the right effect. 

Similar to design thinking, you can use this phase as a series of experiments. Seeing the impact of the things you’ve implemented allows you further choices: if they are not having the right impact, how do you modify those to have the right impact? 

Much like life, adaptation isn’t a linear thing; as you start taking action on some things, you may become aware of other things having an impact. Continual adaptation will allow you to grow, change, and maximize your ROI. 

Navigating complexity and major change initiatives

As an organization either picks up speed and/or becomes more global and complex, it often goes from trying to put some structure on itself on how it can grow further. Sometimes you have a little bit of chaos between putting that structure in place, so what happens is in order to deal with the complexity, the leaders have to be able to develop themselves to deal with the complexity. 

The complexity isn’t going to go away, but they may have to shift their own internal operating system in order to deal with that complexity. If it’s not developed enough to deal with that complexity it will be challenging for those leaders to scale up. Looking at the internal aspect of leadership and how that impacts the external outcome of leadership competencies is important to increase ROI. 

Skills won’t get you to the next level

You have to know where you are before you know where you need to go—skills won’t be the answer. There’s a lot of time spent on actually looking at putting in a development program without understanding where we are now as an organization and what impact that development program will have. 

Take a holistic approach; if you don’t have awareness or insight, then the actions you may take may not be the right ones or get the desired results. 

Most leadership frameworks only work on the outer game of leadership, which is the direct competencies or skills needed to be a leader. But it’s more than simply building skill. It goes much deeper—it’s also about changing the mindset or internal operating system of the leaders and or the organization.

Conscious leadership is for lasting change

Conscious leadership involves looking at both what we call the ‘internal game’ and ‘outer game’ of leadership, so looking at both the consciousness of those leaders and the competencies of that leadership. Bringing those two things together is what can create lasting change and effectiveness. 

If the internal operating system is out of sync with the complexity that someone is dealing with, you can give them a lot of competencies, but it may not have the desired impact. The individual’s mindset or internal operating system may need to change to deal with that complexity. 

Ready to take the next step in increasing ROI through conscious leadership? Contact us. 

Acknowledging change as a CHRO in 2022

It’s human nature to resist change. With every day comes news of something ‘unprecedented,’ and often not in the ways we want to see change happening. As much as this impacts our personal lives, it also—of course—impacts the workplace. 

What’s a CHRO to do as 2022 marches on?

Navigating ever-changing—and stagnant—COVID-19 mitigations

For offices that are choosing to go back to in-person facilities, return-to-work is in full swing. Making sure it’s a positive experience for everyone is a big task on CHROs’ shoulders; not to mention 74% of professionals think remote work will become standard, according to a study from Growmotely. 

Whether your organizations’ workforce is in-person, remote, or hybrid, there’s an important step you may be missing. 

Acknowledgement is the shift CHROs need

The second ‘A’ of the Four A’s of Conscious Leadership is Acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is all about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable—and what have the past few years been but uncomfortable? 

Awareness is the shift from “I don’t know that I don’t know something” to “I know that I don’t know something,” thus creating an opportunity for choice to acknowledge.

By acknowledging changes and frustrations, you can empower your organizations’ leaders to: 

  • Shift from a fixed to growth mindset 
  • Embrace the challenge of learning and change
  • Apply emotional intelligence in everyday situations 

We all know it’s important for leaders to understand how their mindset may impact their perspective of how the team functions. So for CHROs, acknowledging change and navigating with flexibility can create a seismic shift in your organization. 

The top CHROs across the nation are focusing on individual wellness

Considering all we’ve been through in the past two years, it makes sense that HRO World lists supporting individual wellness as a top concern for CHROs. The ongoing pandemic has elevated the role of the CHRO even further—often visibly helping CEOs manage and lead their organizations into the future. 

This makes acknowledgement of present issues, day to day with an eye on the future, even more important.

A holistic approach builds upon acknowledgement

While taking into account individual employee wellness and leadership’s emotional intelligence, you need a holistic approach. 

That’s why we’ve integrated our 4As of Conscious Leadership into our customized solutions for organizations like yours. 

Acknowledging change can be difficult. We’re here to partner with you to create holistic solutions that transform the consciousness and capabilities of leaders for whole-organization success. Contact us today. 

How we scale leaders to grow sustainable technology organizations

Making waves in the tech industry? We know even the best and brightest organization can be no more effective than the sum of its leadership. The level of your leaders’ consciousness and capability is what ripples across your entire organization—and it directly controls your business’s cohesion and capacity to excel.

Why Conscious Leadership matters in today’s world

Once leaders are conscious, self-aware and intentional? They make waves. 

  • Their leadership capacity and impact increases. 
  • They can give employees and organizations what they deserve. 
  • They can intentionally create more engaged and productive workplaces. 

Agile, high-performing teams provide for fast product and service releases and opportunities for innovation and continuous improvement; however, those factors shouldn’t end with the product. Employee and leader burnout is all too real and it’s up to us to create a future of work that’s both scalable and sustainable. 

At ORCA HR Solutions, we focus on creating conscious leaders so they can grow organizations as a whole. 

Proprietary method of Conscious Leadership

At ORCA, we know the true key theme to leadership success: Conscious Leadership. And we’ve created our own proprietary framework that is needed more now than ever. 

ORCA’s Conscious Leadership 4As Framework is a framework to deepen self-awareness and help leaders realize their full potential—as well as the potential of their teams. 

It is about understanding and embracing their whole self with total awareness that a leader’s inner game creates their external results — their leadership impact. 

Leading by our values

We seek data and insights and drive our programs using world-leading tools and assessments, but our application and approach is always heart-centered. 

We never forget that our data has a human heartbeat and we never lose sight of the person behind the numbers. We go further than analysis and base our practices around emotional intelligence, creativity, motivations, experiences and empathy. 

We use data and insight to help leaders create a heightened awareness of self and others, enabling meaningful and effective communication. 

By combining our human-centered approach with rigorous methodology, our leadership development programs develop companies by developing the people who drive them. 

Scaling leaders through holistic leadership development

Leaders are whole people. Therefore, programs to develop these leaders need to be holistic, using multiple tools and ways of learning and growing. 

Our Leadership and Management Programs integrate insights, capabilities, support structures, and real learning on the job. We create holistic programs that integrate assessments, coaching, workshops, and on-the-job practice. 

The outcome is heart-centered, effective leaders that create a culture of bringing their whole self to work. These work environments are kind, supportive, and motivating where people feel like they belong. 

We unequivocally understand all different stages of growth, complexities and challenges tech organizations and startups face and come not only armed with our expertise in human development, but our critical knowledge of the intricate and unique environment, too. 

Our coaches have worked within Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, Slack, Facebook, Google, DocuSign, Expedia, LinkedIn, Zillow Group, Avalara, Micron and more. 

Proven approaches for your unique goals and challenges

Sometimes leaders need 1:1 guidance for an even more personalized experience. We onboard the best coaches in the business, so we have the right person, with the right background, and right expertise to help your organization break through barriers and accelerate towards the future of work. 

We provide executive coaching, workshops, and personalized experiences for the most important challenges organizations face. 

Activating Leadership Through 10 Self-Awareness Activities

Is one of your goals this year to become a more impactful leader? Awareness is the gateway to more effective, conscious leadership. In fact it’s the first step in ORCA’s Four A’s of Conscious Leadership.

Yet many of our clients ask, “Where do I begin?”

We’ve put together a list of 10 activities to do to increase your self-awareness every day. Remember, awareness is a continual process of learning. Our team at ORCA uses these techniques to further grow and develop. 

1. Meditate and practice mindfulness.

One company’s study showed consistent employee meditation increased productivity by 120%. With meditation rising to the same level of popularity as yoga in the U.S. alone, it’s easy to find resources to help with this critical tool for self-awareness and success.  

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and notice what comes up.
  • Headspace and Calm are great tools to use for guided meditations.
  • These mindfulness tips may seem easy enough, but in practice self-awareness is a process of constant learning. Therefore, ORCA and WithPause have put together a detailed guidebook that you can use throughout your day for self-inquiry: 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience. 

2. Learn something new.

From a physiological perspective, learning something new is good for you. When you learn something new, you are exercising your brain—helping to improve cognitive functions such as concentration, attention to detail, memory recall and problem solving.

  • Find an interest that you enjoy, ideally something that brings you joy and gets you out of your comfort zone. Through trying something new, you’ll gain greater self-awareness and confidence. 

3. Use self-assessment instruments.

Understanding behavioral style and preferences to environmental factors impact how you lead and work as a team. 

  • These can include assessments such as DISC and EQ to learn more about yourself and increase your awareness. Get your free DISC Engagement Report here.
  • You can also use CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) to dive deeper into what are your strengths and how to capitalize on them. Contact us to learn more. 

4. Journal.

Journaling is one of the most accessible tools available to increase your self-awareness—especially as patterns in thought can appear when you journal over a span of time. All you need is a pen and paper (or blank document on your laptop). 

  • Consistency is key here. Notice what thoughts you have when you first wake up and write them down. Use the prompts below to guide your journal entries.

5. Create a personal values statement.

A personal values statement shows you what’s most important, which is incredibly effective in prioritizing your time and goals. 

  • What is important to you? What guides your actions?

6. Challenge your fixed mindset.

A growth mindset thrives on challenge, unlike a fixed mindset, which assumes we can’t change in a meaningful way. 

  • Example: Instead of “I need to control.” (a fixed quality that feels unchangeable) try “I am learning how to let go be a better listener and allow others to take the lead.” (this creates a path forward)
  • Kristin Neff’s 5-minute Self Compassion Break is a great tool to guide you forward when you feel stuck in your fixed mindset.

7. Identify the sensations in your body in connection with your emotion.

Recognizing how our mind and body react to situations and emotions—whether in tandem or separately—can illuminate areas we want to alleviate tension. 

  • Notice what situations or stimuli trigger you and cause you to have certain reactions or feelings. Example: What is happening in your body when you feel angry? 
  • Set a reminder on your phone that says “Name 3 emotions you are experiencing right now.” Set it to repeat at a specific time every day. 

8. Examine and poke holes in your own level of thinking.

As leaders, we know that making assumptions isn’t the best practice. Your own thinking is no different. 

  • Play your own devil’s advocate.
  • Be open to asking those around you what I am missing in my thinking about this problem.

9. Know your strengths and weaknesses/growth edge.

SWOT analysis may be second nature for your business, but knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and growth edge present an opportunity for greater self-awareness and direction. 

  • In what areas would you like to improve? What things come naturally and easily to you? What is something you would like to do, but are afraid to try?

10. Pay attention to your intuition.

Paying attention to your intuition—and trusting where it leads—can bring self-recognition and information you can then act on. 

  • Where do you feel naturally inclined to go? Be curious and listen beyond what your rational mind might be telling you. 

Acknowledgement: The second step in Conscious Leadership

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Are you ready to take the leap and shift your mindset into one of a continual learner? 

Are you ready to accept thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back?

 


Moving from Awareness to Acknowledgement in the Conscious Leadership Framework is not a linear process.

The Four A’s of Conscious Leadership work together to deepen our understanding of how our experiences impact our perceptions and show up in the world. 

Awareness  is the shift from “I don’t know that I don’t know something” to “I know that I don’t know something,” thus creating an opportunity for choice to ACKNOWLEDGE.

 In Noel Burch’s the four stages of competence this is moving to conscious incompetence (click on the graphic to see more). This step may seem insignificant, but it is a crucial and often the most difficult part of the process. 

It requires  deep vulnerability as well as an acceptance of discomfort.

The key to success in Acknowledgment is shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

The first step in Acknowledgement is admitting that you don’t know everything, and you desire to learn more. 

We call this a growth mindset. 

A growth mindset embraces the challenge of learning and change. 

People who have a growth mindset know they don’t have all the answers and acknowledge they never will. 

They hold themselves with humility and know there’s always more to learn or what is called a beginner’s mind.

When we learn new skills and new ways of coping the stress and challenges of life, new possibilities arise.

We are able to see life from new angles and approach problems with more humility, experience and innovation. 

In his research with Richard Boyatzis, Daniel Goleman established the primary role of leadership as emotional in nature. He used the term “attunement” to intentionally establish the non-linear nature of applied emotional intelligence. 

Attunement aims to maintain the quality of relational health among members of a team or group. It is important for the leader to acknowledge and take ownership of how his/her mindset, expectations and emotional state is going to have an impact on the interactions even if there was nothing said. 

It is important for a leader to acknowledge this and take ownership of this. 

This pursuit of deeper understanding of the group requires the leader to understand how their mindset might impact their perspective of how the team functions.

A case study: a senior leader acknowledges and take ownership of his "internal operating system"

In the previous article written on Awareness, I spoke about my experience coaching a senior leader who learned to become aware of how his direct communication style was hindering his team’s productivity. 

The Leadership Circle Assessment was used to show him how his mindset or “internal operating system” was driving his leadership actions. After the assessment, it became clear that he needed to acknowledge and take ownership of his impact on the overall effectiveness of the team. 

Time and time again, I see many leaders wanting to dive straight into action, without truly accepting themselves and their actions. 

Therefore, I asked him to slow down, take a step back and reflect. Through this reflection period, he became more curious about his communication style, what situations triggered him and why he believed he had to be the go-to person to solve problems. 

He was then able to take ownership of his beliefs and acknowledge how he might be hindering his team’s productivity.

How to introduce Acknowledgement into your day through reflection and exploration

Moving from Awareness to Acknowledgement is not linear, but iterative in nature. 

We acknowledge through exploration, inquiry and ownership which then helps to increase our awareness. 

There are a few key ways I’ve learned to bring more Acknowledgment into my life.

Acknowledgment Tip #1

Acknowledge your strengths AND your weaknesses. It’s important to celebrate who we are holistically, the things we are proud of and the things we want to improve upon. Looking at one, and not the other, provides a skewed sense of self. Download our 7 Mindfulness Practices to bring more awareness and acknowledgement into your daily life.

Acknowledgment Tip #2

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Know that becoming aware and acknowledging your behaviors and characteristics can be difficult. What allows people to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable is the acknowledgment that the only thing we can guarantee is that change is inevitable.  By changing our relationship to the unknown and getting curious around any underlying story that may accompany the discomfort helps us become more comfortable.

Acknowledgment Tip #3

Practice self-compassion. Self compassion is the act of being kind toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or punishing ourselves with self-criticism. The 5 minute Self Compassion Break by Kristin Neff is a great tool to implement self-compassion daily. 

Acknowledgment Tip #4

Engage a coach or mentor to support you on your growth journey. Coaches are committed to your development personally and professionally and function as a mirror to reflect back your own perceptions, stories, strengths and weaknesses. They can support you in maximizing your  personal and professional potential. 

Discomfort is part of growth. Know that you are not alone in this journey.

Are you ready to Acknowledge and take ownership in pursuit of more effective leadership?

Our assessments can help you better understand how your mindset and behaviors are impacting your leadership.

Stay tuned for the next part of our Conscious Leadership series which covers the third step of the 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership: Action. ‘

If you want to keep up to date, join our newsletter for a monthly dose of conscious leadership.

Awareness: The First Step in Conscious Leadership

Learning about ourselves and how we relate to others

Imagine being able to share your thoughts regardless of who you’re speaking with or your expertise in a field. Imagine being able to empower your team to do the same. Is it possible for a workplace to openly communicate regardless of title or hierarchy? How do you get to the root of how your team is feeling and empower them to share openly and honestly with you? This is where Conscious Leadership comes in.

A Conscious Leader embraces their whole self with total awareness of their leadership impact.

They are able to listen and understand how they relate to others in a way which allows them to continue to grow, adapt and lead their team more effectively.  In order to become a more Conscious Leader, one must make a shift into a more conscious mindset. Effective leadership begins with Awareness and is the first step in the Four A’s of Conscious Leadership.

What is awareness and why is it important?

Awareness is defined as the “quality or state of being aware.” You might be wondering “what does this truly mean” or “how does this relate to leadership?” 

 

Daniel Goleman, who popularized Emotional Intelligence, considers self-awareness to be the most crucial competency associated with workplace emotional intelligence. His studies suggest that people who are aware of their emotions are more effective in their jobs. They recognize and understand their moods, emotions and needs and are able to perceive and anticipate how their actions affect other people. 

 

They are also open to feedback from others on how to continuously improve and make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures. As a result, they are more trusted leaders and create more productive workplaces.

When we learn to tune-in to ourselves, we create choices of how we move forward and engage.

Self-awareness is about being “in-tune” with yourself in relation to others. It plays a critical role in:

  1. How we understand ourselves
  2. How we relate to others 
  3. How we connect to the world around us

When we tune-in, we can learn about our inner resources, abilities and limits. We begin to understand our strengths and weaknesses and become open to receiving candid feedback. This allows us to see new perspectives and continue down our path of learning and self-development. 

What are the blind spots?

“I don’t know that I don’t know something.”

The challenge in self-awareness is we all have blind spots. 

 

Blind spots: (noun) Things we may not be aware of about ourselves or in relation to others. 

Blind spots are created due to either a  lack of a skill or competency or the inability to see  how our stories, beliefs, mindset, feelings or past experiences impact our behaviors. This is called unconscious incompetence, simply put

I don’t know that I don’t know something. Below are the steps that people go through learning new skills as outlined in a model that was developed by Noel Burch in 1970, called the four stages of competence. The model highlights two factors that affect our thinking as we learn a new skill: consciousness (awareness) and skill level (competence). 

Our blind spots have control over us and our actions. Yet, when we understand the underlying unconscious mechanism that drives our thinking and actions, we have the ability to choose our next steps.

We can use awareness to move to the next step on the ladder, from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. This is the act of moving from “I don’t know that I don’t know something” to “I know that I don’t know something.” Once we are aware of what we don’t know, we have choices available to us. 

A case study: building awareness in a senior leader

In my work with senior leaders, increasing awareness is one of the first areas I work on. One of my favorite examples is a client who was completely unaware of the impact his communication style had on others. As a senior leader he was a strong problem solver and was driven to achieve results in a very timely manner. However, his approach was not getting the best out of the people around him. This was his unconscious incompetence.  


After completing Leadership Circle 360 Assessment, he received feedback on how others perceived him. They saw him as driven, but his direct style was perceived as not collaborative. As a result people did not feel motivated to work with him. At meetings, he dominated conversations and didn’t give space for others. In reviewing his results, he went from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. This information gave him the choice
to then  acknowledge his behavior and move into action, the next steps in the conscious leadership framework. 

Increase our awareness through feedback from others

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One of the best ways to become more self-aware is through asking for feedback from others. 

Self-Awareness Tip #1: I often suggest that leaders find people who they trust to tell them one thing they can do going forward to be a more effective leader. This is what Marshall Goldsmith refers to as Feedforward as a way to focus on the future and not the past. 

 

Self-Awareness Tip #2: I also advise that leaders listen to feedback with curiosity and without attaching to the feelings that come up. There are also more formal instruments available to seek feedback from others such as the 360 assessment or 360 interviews. Both are valuable methods to increase awareness through feedback from others. 

Increase our awareness through self-inquiry

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Equally important, is becoming more aware through self-inquiry. This means questioning, exploring, examining and investigating anything regarding oneself.

 Self-Awareness Tip #3: Psychometric instruments such as DISC and EQ provides a lens to better examine our individual attributes. These assessments help us better understand ourselves and the impact we have on others. 

 

Self-Awareness Tip #4: Self-inquiry also requires reflection about what emotional stimuli or events have impacted you. It is important to maintain daily practices to assist in this journey. Remember, you are not your thoughts and feelings. You are merely observing your responses and reactions in order to better understand who you are and how you impact those around you.

These self-awareness tips may seem easy enough, but in practice self-awareness is a process of constant learning. Therefore, ORCA and WithPause have put together a detailed guidebook that you can use throughout your day for self-inquiry: 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience.

Awareness is the first step to Conscious Leadership...

Awareness is about our ability to be fully present in the moment and to choose our next steps in an informed and conscious way. Once we are able to increase our awareness, we can move forward to the next phases of acknowledgment, action and adaptation. 

 

Do you need advice or support in your journey to increase awareness for you or your team? Download our resource 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience.

 

Stay tuned for the next part of our Conscious Leadership series which covers the second step of the 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership: Acknowledgement. If you want to keep up to date, join our newsletter for a monthly dose of conscious leadership.

 

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Engage your People with Caring Conversations

As I reflect on my previous role as a Microsoft Global HR leader. I have been wondering how I would have navigated a similar moment in history and what challenges I would have faced in that role. What support could I offer my teams as an HR leader and as a business leader as we enter an unprecedented period of uncertainty and upheaval?

Over 80% of the U.S. is being asked to stay at home and some countries, like Italy, are in 100% lock-down. I want to pay my respects and gratitude to people working in essential roles, especially the medical teams on the front lines of support for COVID-19 patients. 

 Since so many are working from home, I have received dozens of emails about virtual meetings and information on how to use technology to support people during crisis. A range of technologies help us communicate when we are physically distanced; however, we need to ensure that our people feel supported through genuine human connection. 

What conversations are you having that connect personally to each of your employees at this time?  How do you show you care?

We must reach out with compassion and empathy. How do you empathize and “step outside your emotions to view something from the perspective of the other person”? To help you gain a wider perspective on what your teams are feeling and experiencing, consider the following questions/tactics:  

  • Reach out to listen with empathy about what is going on in their lives at this moment and how can you provide support 
  •  Ask them what transitions are they going through personally and how can you support them through this. Some people will be feeling a sense of grief from intense change.  
  • Let them know we are all in this together and you don’t have all the answers  
  • Ensure they feel empowered and trusted to take care of their work and schedules 
  • Engage them in conversations, creating the space to come up with innovative ideas 
  • Ask how you can help them move forward through uncertainty 
  • Ask how you can set up a great virtual environment, and provide them with some best practices? 
  •  Be transparent about the work situation and what you know and don’t know 

In the past few weeks, I have read and spoke to a few leaders who are doing great things to support their people. Others have not yet taking action. Where do you stand?  

Some leaders are intentional in their support and some are innovative, offering virtual beer afternoons, coffee breaks online, mental health breaks, mindfulness classes, book clubs from home, reach-outs to help others in need, and many more great ideas. 

I would love to hear from you if you would like to share what are you doing to support your people and what innovative ideas are emerging in your world.    

To help you facilitate support for your teams, we offer a virtual workshop and webinar. 

“Leading in Times of Anxiety and Uncertainty Virtual Workshop”  

  • Helping my myself to help others:  Using Emotional Intelligence tools to understand what is happening to me in times of uncertainty.
  • Empathy and Conversations that build connections :  How I can understand what others are feeling and experiencing. How I can create conversations that build trust and strengthen relationships
  • Supporting my people through turbulent times:  Practical exercises and frameworks that I can use to support myself and my teams 

Contact us at info@orcahrsolutions.com

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Leading in Times of Anxiety and Uncertainty

To support their teams through uncertain times, effective leaders reflect first on their internal world and personal awareness. By understanding themselves better, leaders can apply that knowledge to navigate the external world and offer relevant guidance and aid to others.

Facing uncertainty, we may find that our bodies feel tense and we cannot channel our energies on forward movement. We are frozen by the fear and anxiety surrounding us. On an instinctual level, our brains first stop and assess our environment for safety and danger. This reaction is perfectly normal as our nervous system has entered a “threat state”. To read more information about this natural neurological reaction, see the footnote below describing the SCARF model*.

Reacting to threatening experiences, our bodies release cortisol, the fear hormone, with dire long-term consequences for our health. Positive experiences trigger the release of dopamine, a hormone that contributes to confidence and higher performance.

An average of three positive experiences dilutes one comparable negative experience because cortisol is three times more powerful than dopamine. To reduce your stress level, engage in as many positive experiences as you can to boost your beneficial dopamine levels.

As a leader, proactively taking steps to support your people  creates more positive experiences in this time of high anxiety and uncertainty.

  1. Start with yourself and be aware of how you are feeling about the current situation.
  2. Practice self-regulation in moments of high stress.
  3. Reach out to others. Ask people how they are feeling. Actively listen. Connect. Everyone needs more support and social connection at this time.
  4. Set up a meeting with your team with no agenda. Gather your team and ask each person to share what is happening if they would like.
  5. Ask your team regularly about how you can best support them as circumstances change rapidly.
  6. Share these 10 steps with your group.

Below is a checklist of 10 immediate actions to take yourself, and share with your team to increase their positive experiences and decrease their stress.

  1. Be mindful – Recognize and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions at this moment. Be aware of tension in your body. Name your feelings. To improve your self-awareness, you can ask yourself:
    1. What am I experiencing right now? How am I experiencing that in my body? Be specific about naming thoughts and feelings. My mind fills with fearful thoughts. My throat feels tight. Pressure weighs on my chest. My jaw clenches when I’m anxious.
      • Name your emotions specifically – e.g fear, sadness, guilt, anger or frustration?
      • Why am I experiencing these emotions? Validate what you’re feeling as useful information to move forward.
    2. What are some of the reasons I feel this way? What can I control? What is out of my hands?
    3. How do these emotions impact me and my ability to perform or move forward?
    4. What small step can I take to improve the situation?
  2. Take action today on what you can control: Prioritize action on what moves you forward rather than focus on all the things you cannot control.
  3. Connect with others: We are social beings; our community helps us feel safe. Reach out to people by phone or video, connect with friends and family, following social distance guidelines.
  4. Engage in what refuels you; What can you do to refuel or recharge your energy? Practicing mindfulness or meditation can be very helpful in these uncertain times.
  5. Move your body: Exercise to relax, and stimulate your brain’s production of endorphins, the chemicals that act as the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
  6. Experience nature:  Evidence shows that spending time in nature creates many measurable beneficial changes in the body and the mind.
  7. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling. Talking out loud about your fears and anxieties can reduce your stress level. If you’re feeling really stuck, talk to a mental health professional or coach.
  8. Create a routine for your day: Since many of us are working from home, without the predictable structure of the work environment, it is normal to feel a bit lost, or out of sorts. Build a daily structure that supports you and helps you deal with the uncertainty still to come.
  9. Pause: If possible, slow down on making major decisions. Be aware that emotions precede actions and you may not make the best decision when you’re feeling stressed. Fear and anxiety can have a deep subconscious effect on our ultimate decision in a given situation. A negative emotional reaction may cause a disregard of facts or data that that logically support a certain decision. Pause and revisit the decision when your mind and body are in a less threatened state.
  10. Help others: Reach out to people who may need support. There is scientific evidence that when we focus on doing something good for others, the act of kindness causes our brain to release dopamine, increasing own our happiness and calming our minds. If you can activate yourself or your community without putting yourself at risk, do so.

If you need support putting these steps into action, please contact us for a free 15-minute consultation. We have tools and methodologies to support you through these uncertain times.

Additional Information

*David Rock, NeuroLeadership Institute, refers to the SCARF Model*that describes the five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.

  • Status defines relative importance to others.
  • Certainty concerns our ability to predict the future
  • Autonomy provides a sense of control over event
  • Relatedness describes our sense of safety with others. Friend or foe?
  • Fairness depicts the perception of open-minded exchanges between people.

These five domains activate either the ‘primary reward’ or ‘primary threat’ circuitry (and associated networks) of the brain. A perceived threat to one’s status activates similar brain networks that respond to a threat to one’s life. In the same way, a perceived increase in fairness activates the same reward circuitry as receiving a monetary reward.

The model enables people to more easily remember, recognize, and potentially modify the core social domains that drive human behavior. In normal circumstances, the brain assesses our environment for safety and danger. However, in the current state of the world with the Covid19 crisis, we are experiencing additional stress:

  • We cannot personally control the global reaction to the Coronavirus
  • There is uncertainty about how and when the situation will resolve
  • In the immediate future, our autonomy as an individual has been severely impacted.

In addition to this our need for personal connection to others and relationships are being impacted. We respond neurologically to these challenging situations as if there has been a threat to our life. Frightening experiences produce more stress hormones, like cortisol over time. If we can’t reduce our stress levels, the following can occur:

  • Decreased cognitive performance
  • Decreased oxygen available for critical brain functions
  • Tendency to overgeneralize
  • Defensive responses
  • Exaggerated reactions to small stressors
  • Heightened agitation
  • The tendency to dwell on previous negative experiences
  • Struggle to get along with others