Leaders: How to Reduce Fear in Teams during COVID-19

Leaders: How to Reduce Fear in Teams during COVID-19

At this point in time, there are many people in fear and anxiety. As a leader, you’re undoubtedly feeling panicked about what you can do to help your employees, family friends and organisation.

And today, I want to help you because even though things feel like they’re uncertain and deteriorating on an hourly basis, we have power. More than we realise.

Currently, we are all operating from our survival brain – the limbic and mammalian brain that operate subconsciously.  They’re designed to keep us safe from harm. When we operate from this mid-centre of the brain, it means we aren’t in our optimal, smart zone.  We focus on the wrong tasks, get easily distracted and assume the worst.  Fear drives us.

What the research shows is that to move into a high performance zone, we need to think about the exciting future ahead. And that’s what a good leader does. Pulls people out of fear and breaks their addiction to safety.

If you’re regularly monitoring the news a couple times a day, you’re operating from your survival brain, trying to desperately work out how to stay safe. But you won’t work it out from this part of the brain.  Nor will your employees.  The only way we can pull ourselves out is to envision a better future.

What people want to hear, especially from their leaders, is that everything will be okay. Strong leadership is all about painting a picture of a brighter future. In today’s terms, that’s one where we can go to cafes, attend weddings or conferences and discuss footy results to our work buddies over the water cooler. But it’s also a future that is even better than what we’ve ever had – where companies, schools, families and not for profits are all thriving.

If you’re a fan of history, you know that in tough times humans get it together and come out stronger than ever before.  We are now being given a wonderful opportunity to unite and help each other during this time of need.  The true gift of leadership is to provide people with hope, a meaningful existence and belief that all will be well.  It involves having compassion and empathy for those who are suffering and who need our strength. 

Now, you’re probably wondering, how can I do that with my people, when I don’t even feel like that? And it’s a good question.

So I want to teach you a quick 3-minute meditation that you can do anytime, anywhere. You can learn the process in the video below that you can use with your employees and yourself. What it does is harmonise the heart and brain, so that we are feeling and acting from our heart, rather than thinking from our brain.  I’ve been doing this regularly for three years and it calms me down when I go into fear. I do it as a group exercise with senior leadership teams and with my family (it helps both my children sleep better afterwards). And for six months, I have done it every morning when I awake – dreaming of the future I want for my family and my business.

This meditation has been designed and scientifically tested by the Heart Math Institute. According to Greg Bradden, a scientist and best-selling author, this short harmonisation of the heart and brain triggers 1300 life giving biochemical reactions in the body.

Even better, during this health crisis, is that lab studies show that it boosts SIgA in our mouths, which is the first line of defence for our immune system. And the immunity boosting properties last for up to six hours.

From a business perspective, this meditation also makes us more resilient to change through encouraging heart rate variability. Something that is so important to us as we adapt to a new world of work and life.  If you don’t feel comfortable, facilitating a meditation with your employees, then follow these leadership tips on How to Talk about the Future and Build Workplace Trust.

And from a global perspective, the more people that focus on a bright future with a thriving economy means we will be able to create a Covid-19 free reality sooner, rather than later.

The good news is that the more people who think positively about the future and have compassion for others, the bigger the change that will potentially be recorded on the Global Consciousness Project that started at Princeton University in the 1990s. It has proved that the more people experiencing or thinking the same thing, changes the structure of reality of the planet from the 33 miners being saved in Chile to Princess Diana dying.

Of course, you can debate with me that this isn’t possible. My challenge to you is give it a try. Have fun with it.  Envision lots of happy future scenarios that make you feel good.  If science proves that it boosts our immunity, now is the best time to try something new. What have you got to lose?

You have the power.  Now, use it to help your people, your family and yourself.  We will get through this together.  Please share this page/video with as many people as possible to help as many people as we can.

And let me know how you go!

Marie-Claire Ross is the Founder and Chief Corporate Catalyst at Trustologie. She is a workplace sociologist, author, speaker and consultant focused on helping leaders put the right processes in place to accelerate trust during change and growth. She does this through strategic diagnostics, roundtables, workshops, coaching and consulting. Marie-Claire is also the author of the number three ranked book on Amazon, Transform your Safety Communication. She has been interviewed on “Technology Behind Business” for Sky Business News and regularly contributes articles to FM Magazine and LogiSYM on company culture. She is also a Graduate of the Company Director’s Course and is on the SME Committee for the Australian Institute of Company Directors.