Successfully Leading During Protests and Civil Unrest

Jun 24, 2020

The events of the past few days have been emotional for everyone. A glance at the news will leave you horrified, hurt, angry, sad, or one of many other emotions. I am not qualified to offer solutions to the anger, protests, and violence. Rather, I write to you as a fellow leader and someone who trains and coaches leaders. Here is what is on my heart and mind.

Your Responsibility to Your Team

You have responsibilities to tend to and people to care for and lead. Your first priority is caring for your team. That is in your control. While not all on your team will have been or feel equally impacted by the events of the past several days, people are hurting. You can help them focus and feel less angry and anxious by asking and listening. Now is the time to practice your skills of empathy and listening. People don’t expect you to have answers or the perfect words. What people need is your attention, presence, and availability.

  • Acknowledge how hard the events have been.

  • Ask people how they are doing.

  • Listen to their responses.

  • Be supportive.

  • Ask if there is anything you can do.

  • And just let people know you are hurting and frustrated too.

  • No answers, just acknowledgment.

Your Responsibility to Yourself

Now let’s talk about you–and your responsibility to yourself. There is much that is outside of your control, but I urge you to focus on what is in your control. That list includes:

  • Where you focus

  • What you watch

  • What you listen to

  • How you respond

  • What you do

I don’t know exactly where you live or how the events of the past few days are impacting you personally. But I do know that you have choices that you can make to live through challenges like these.

Here are some actions to consider:

  • Control what you can control–be clear about it and do what best serves you.

  • Pray or meditate–for others, for yourself, and for our country and world. And center yourself so you can do your best to be at your best for the day.

  • Focus on something important on your list. If not, it will be easier for your mind to shift back to the images, stories, and atrocities around us. Dive into something valuable and important to you, your team, and your Customers.

As a leader, you must take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

Your team needs you. Your organization needs you. And the world needs you, too.

Kevin Eikenberry is a world-renowned leadership expert, a two-time bestselling author, speaker, consultant, trainer, coach, leader, learner, husband and father. He was recently recognized by as one of the top 100 Leadership & Management thinkers in the World. This article originally appeared on his Leadership and Learning Blog.

Written by: Kevin Eikenberry

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