The leader’s personal survival plan

“Everything I’ve worked so hard for is imploding and it’s just hopeless.” In recent days, that ‘overwhelm’ feeling may have come to you often.

We are leaders, but also human.

Follow this survival plan.

1. Manage your fear

Two experts, Mark McLaughlin a neurosurgeon and Scott Mann, former Green Beret, tell us how.

  • Defuse panic by remembering that it is biology. That sudden fear is your amygdala, the primitive part of your brain triggering self-preservation mechanisms. Just knowing that allows us to label and recognize the feeling, and to reject its ‘overwhelm’ effect.
  • Check-in with yourself: it’s chaos out there, but there are still things you can control. Realize that you decide what to prioritize – e.g. your family and your business family. Then make a quick inventory of your resources, such as a home to keep your family safe, good employees, A/Rs, maybe a line of credit.
  • Stabilize and re-evaluate: Breathing helps, Green Berets use deep, basal breaths to stabilize emotionally. Next, commit to execute a plan with your resources.

2. Put this quick plan in motion

Accept that your job is not to save the employment of every person in the company; your job is to save the company so it can offer employment and serve clients once this pandemic is over. It will be over.

  • Pick 2 or 3 bad and really bad scenarios for 2020 revenue: -30%, -50% and -75%
  • For each level of revenue, determine who is absolutely needed to run the company and how much money is available for payroll. Decide how you will match the available payroll to the indispensable positions: furloughs, reduced pay, layoffs, etc. Then decide what indicator(s) will trigger each scenario.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employees expect the worst, let them know where they stand even if it’s tough. You’ll be the leader they need.
  • Implement each scenario when the indicators say so – it may be now. Don’t wait!

3. Set a routine and move forward without expecting results

In chaos, you need structure. Set a balanced routine – e.g. work time, family time -, follow it, focus on the controllables and not on results. At present, we are not entitled to the fruits of our labor; we are entitled to the labor itself.

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