Reflection questions for leaders navigating Covid19

Tim Jackson, Ph.D.
Apr 28, 2020 · 6 min read

Many of us haven’t been in a ‘developmental’ mindset these last few weeks. I assume none of us are optimizing right now, or ‘killing it,’ at work or in life. In the past six weeks or so, we’ve hunkered down in a physical sense, while also enduring a psychological siege, warding off anxieties about our health, loved ones, businesses, and financial well-being.

As we’ve adjusted to life in our bunkers, you may have little interest in pondering how to be more effective. For example right now I don’t want to read articles about the ‘5 tips on how to be a better parent, home-schooling educator, professional, etc.’ Don’t talk to me about reaching my potential. My mindset is ‘I am at capacity dealing with Covid19, with looking after my young kids, with trying to work from my daughter’s bedroom surrounded by stuffies and ‘Frozen’ Lego, with just keeping everyone *alive*— so I’m ok with being suboptimal right now (and don’t want to feel guilty about it thanks).’

At the same time, we have all grown these past few weeks, though we may not realize it. This pandemic overtook us at a rapid rate, laying waste to the routines and the comforts we took for granted, forcing us to adapt our work and personal lives in sudden and significant ways. As we pivoted our lives at great speed, however, we may not have digested what happened, how the world changed, what the crisis means for our future, or how we’ve grown as a result. Furthermore, we may not have considered our approach to coping with this massive stress, or how we might like to cope in different ways going forward.

In particular, leaders of organizations or institutions have been so focused on surviving these past few weeks, that they may have not found time for reflection. At the same time, they’ve faced unprecedented, once-in-a-career levels of crisis. I have great sympathy for all the people and families affected by the Covid19 crisis, but due to my vocation I have a particular sympathy for leaders — and I would like to try to help them, in some modest and supportive way.

After some consideration, I concluded that the best I can do is offer thoughtful questions. In that vein I’ve compiled a list of reflection questions that might help leaders consolidate their experiences from the past few weeks.

I don’t have all the answers on how to ‘lead through Covid19’ like some superhero. I feel the strain like everyone else — a kind of wind resistance being applied to work and personal life. But I hope that by asking thoughtful questions, leaders can use them to consolidate the blur of experiences passing them by these last few weeks, and extract something valuable from them.

So as my daughter’s kindergarten teacher suggests when sending out weekly homework assignments, please feel free to consider a few of these questions if they are helpful to you, or not. You are the best person to decide.

Building awareness of the impact of Covid19

Inspirational leadership

Managing others

Coping-related questions

As the worst of the Covid19 surge begins to recede, I hope that we can all find strength emerging from the stress and strain of these last few weeks. I further hope that we can reconstitute our hard-earned experiences into a new level of resilience that will benefit us in the future.

I sincerely wish all of you safety and health in this difficult time, and hope this article has given you some useful ideas.

Tim Jackson, Ph.D. is the President of Jackson Leadership Inc., a consulting firm based in Toronto. His core areas of expertise are designing and delivering leadership development programs, providing customized facilitated sessions to leadership teams, and adapting these services to support organizations going through significant change. For the past 14 years he has worked with leaders across a range of hierarchical levels, industries, and geographical regions, including North America, Western Europe, and China. He has published his insights on leadership in peer-reviewed journals and popular media outlets like Forbes.com and The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper). He is also a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Society for Consulting Psychology, both divisions of the American Psychological Association.

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Tim Jackson, Ph.D.

Written by

President of Jackson Leadership Inc. | Building leadership capacity for companies facing change from strategic shifts to rapid growth.

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Tim Jackson, Ph.D.

Written by

President of Jackson Leadership Inc. | Building leadership capacity for companies facing change from strategic shifts to rapid growth.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

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