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10 Ways to Lead in Turbulent Times – Sherri Hilton, MAL, CEC, PCC

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These translations are done via Google Translate

by Sherri Hilton

Work from home. Physical distancing. Self-isolation. Quarantines. Layoffs. Job losses. Market crashes.  These are just a few of the phrases that have become commonplace over the past ten days.  As a leader these are truly the most difficult of times and now, more than ever, the world needs calm, resilient, and compassionate leadership. These practical strategies and tips are aimed at helping you and your teams navigate the coming days, weeks, or even possibly months and stay calm, well, focused, connected, and productive.

  1. Start With You

Take care of your well being. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to let go of making your own health and wellness a priority when so many others need you and things feel out of control.  Much like when on an airplane and the flight attendant instructs you, in an event of an emergency, to put your oxygen mask on first and then assist others, this is no different.  Staying healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally will be critical to your ability to be a strong and resilient leader.

  1. Share Information and Updates

Share important information and updates with your team on a continual basis as it becomes available versus waiting for a best or “right moment.” Be honest and fully transparent and acknowledge the reality, the downsides and the big unknowns to help your team make sense of what is happening and to be able to anticipate what could be ahead.

  1. Connect in Meaningful Ways

With many working from home, your team members could be struggling with feeling disconnected or “cut off” from the routines and structures that feel normal and grounding for them. They will still need to feel a personal presence and connection with you and other members of the team. Regularly scheduled virtual check ins, daily huddles to say hi, share their thoughts and feelings or some inspiration or a laugh can all foster a sense of calm, belonging, emotional comfort and psychological safety.

  1. Be Human

Yes, it might feel like you need to be superhuman right now, but you are not.  It can isolate you psychologically from your team if they perceive you as being unfeeling or “robotic” and not impacted by what is happening.  Share how this is impacting you – it’s not a sign of weakness but rather it demonstrates that you are in touch with your feelings and with others as fellow human beings.

  1. Provide Clear Guidance

Talking about strategy and future priorities will not be overly effective right now. Your team has “bigger fish to fry” right now so instead provide clear guidance on business- critical priorities that they can rally around right now. Discuss with your team how each member can contribute to these priorities to foster a sense of meaning and purpose.

  1. Leverage Your Team’s Strengths

Have ongoing dialogue that helps your team to remember and leverage their unique individual and collective talents and strengths and that would make the biggest difference to the work you need to focus on right now. It’s also a great way to continue the development of your team as they deepen their understanding of one another, how they can and will work together, and how they can add value during these times.

  1. Be Creative

These exceptional times call for unconventional approaches and open minds and hearts.  Tap into the collective wisdom and creativity of your team and utilize technology to create a regular forum where they can share their ideas for staying well, connected, productive, and focused. Encourage them to bring any ideas to these conversations and start a movement that produces positive energy and momentum.

  1. Focus on What You Can Control

Anxiety is running high and is a result of worry left unchecked and focusing on things that we can’t control and ultimately can’t take any action on. Even just asking the question “what really is within our control right now” can be a way to start a powerful dialogue with your team members to help them identify and address their fears and anxieties.

  1. Use “Slow Time” or Downtime for Team Development

Often in our busy days and weeks, leaders and their teams put their development on the back burner unless it’s mandatory safety or compliance training. Encourage your team to make a learning plan together, share resources and take advantage of the many “free” development resources on the internet.

  1. Unite and Grow Stronger

We are not defined by the good times, but rather by the times that test us in every and any way possible. Right now, more than ever before, we need to rally around things that bind us together. As a leader, you have the opportunity, to help your team grow stronger and more aligned through this adversity.  Reinforce what make them unique as a team and what they can offer to the organization during these turbulent times and be sure to acknowledge and  celebrate – virtually of course – their contributions.

Be Kind- Be Well- Be Hopeful

About Sherri Hilton

Sherri Hilton is the Manager of Leadership with a North American based energy company and also a private leadership coach for leaders in both the United States and Canada.

Sherri has a proven track record of helping leaders achieve personal excellence, build strong relationships with others and positively impact and contribute to the success of their organizations.  As an experienced and highly skilled executive coach, Sherri has worked successfully worked with senior and high potential leaders, business owners/entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries and professions including energy, finance, legal, healthcare and construction to name a few.

She has more than 20 years of experience in individual and group coaching, leadership development, advanced facilitation and public speaking.


Sherri has both a Masters degree in Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University and holds a PCC level of accreditation through the global International Coach Federation (ICF), in which she is an active member. She is also certified in a number of leadership development assessments and tools, including Emotional Intelligence 360, The Leadership Circle 360, MBTI, Korn Ferry Voices 360 and Personality Dimensions.

Join Sherri at on Linkedin at Sherri Hilton Linkedin

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