Self-care is the key to resilience and resourcefulness

I was reflecting on the intensity of the work that one of my clients is dealing with at the moment. They asked me to come up with a nifty thing for the leaders to think about and I realized that Covid is putting a very specific demand on leaders – which is a practice they need to have all the time – but right now it’s concentrating the need for it: in a crisis you absolutely must take care of yourself. Because in order for you to be adequately resourced to handle what your leadership assignment is you need to be calm, centred and have your inner house in order or else you’re not fully available for the team or organisation you lead.

If you’re not good at self-care and self-leadership, it will undermine your team leadership. Some leaders are doing ‘anxious’ self-care because they’re stressed. It is self-focused rather than service-focused. It can result in blind spots. And can transfer the stress to others. Some examples might be becoming distant, going numb, shielding people from harsh realities. This means you’re not actually thinking about the members of your team who also lead others and what they need. You could say ‘well they should be doing self-care themselves’ but if they don’t know how to do that, it’s your assignment as a leader to make sure they’re in a resourceful state or they won’t be in a good state to exercise their own leadership. There are two aspects to this, are you a good role model and are you paying attention to how well resourced your team members are themselves? Are they in a calm, grounded and centred state to do their leadership assignment? And what do you need to do to make sure that they are getting what they need to do it. It is very common to leave leaders to sort things out themselves rather than reaching out to support, encourage and guide them.

You need to notice the impact you’re having on the team members and is that supporting them or thwarting them; is it enabling them or is it disempowering them? Are you inadvertently doing things that increase the stress of the team rather than temper it? Are you sharing and asking them for what you need, what would be supportive of you?

It’s specifically a conscious awareness of how is everyone doing really. You may need to support them with care and connection – what sort of encouragement or guidance do they need right now to lead the people they’re responsible for in the best possible way. Do you inquire into the things you are observing in a way that is supportive and enlightening?

So, you consider; how am I doing? Am I taking good care of myself? How is my team doing? Does anyone need my support, encouragement or guidance? Are we all in good relationship with each other? And then pull back and thinking organisationally what is needed? Is everything flowing well through the system? Is there a good exchange everywhere so things are actually flowing – are you generating flow? Is anything compromised; rigid or stuck? Are there any obstacles that need to be removed or converted into a resource? These are normal things to consider but under Covid – especially if you’re in essential services – or you’re in a situation where the flood gates have opened, it becomes critical.