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Thrive in Times of Change

04.26.21

Women’s Leadership in Unprecedented Times

silhouette of a women standing on top of a staircase

We’re living in challenging times. Across the globe, we’ve juggled work, families, and personal responsibilities, all while society has been challenged on a global scale. Fortunately, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are transformational times still ahead of us, but we can employ coping strategies to thrive during these times of change.

How do you continue to succeed as the world changes on a day-to-day basis? The key is focusing on self-care, keeping your dreams alive, and stepping up to leadership. By employing strategies to focus on yourself, and your development, you can refocus and gain a fresh perspective on what makes you uniquely situated to succeed.

Strategy #1: Self Care is Essential

Lean on Each Other

You’ve heard of fight or flight in response to stress, but did you know there’s another effective way to respond to stress? In the tend and befriend response, we tend to those most vulnerable and turn to those around us for support. This response is an excellent way for you to foster connection in challenging situations by connecting with others for your wellbeing. Take time out of your week to connect with your community, whether it be friends, family, or colleagues – it can help you thrive when times are tough.

Make Sense of a Turning Point

It can be tough to see the positive in a difficult situation. However, you can find meaning in your challenges by identifying the downstream consequences of a catalyzing event. By thinking about things in a counterfactual way, you can focus on the silver lining instead of the adverse effects. Did you have to cancel a work trip due to the pandemic? Appreciate the positive outcomes of this situation where you now have more time to spend at home with family or connecting with friends.  

Cultivate Gratitude

When a crisis hits, you can develop an effective coping strategy by focusing on the positive. One way to do this is to reorder your priorities. Focus on the things that bring meaning to your life, like your relationships, personal projects, health, or your favorite parts of your job. Move anything that isn’t worth spending energy on to the bottom of your priorities. Another way to cultivate gratitude is to focus on three items you’re grateful for each day. Share these three things with someone you care about and keep yourself accountable on a day-to-day basis.

Strategy #2: Learn, Grow, and Change

Change is an Opportunity to Grow

One of the most valuable qualities we have as humans is the ability to grow psychologically. Don’t fight your feelings and instead shift to a growth mindset. How can you change your perspective? By choosing to confront your feelings and look at them as opportunities. If you find yourself fearing change, failure, or a challenge, look at it instead as an opportunity to grow. Focus on how your challenges can lead to growth in the long term to see the positive arise in difficult situations.

Foster a Growth Mindset

Once you’ve moved from a fixed to a growth mindset, it’s time to focus on developing your frame of mind. There are several ways you can continue to foster your growth mindset, including:

  • Set learning goals
  • Plunge into new activities
  • Experiment with new ways of doing things
  • Expose yourself to different voices
  • Adopt a playful frame of mind 
  • Become comfortable with incremental change 

Challenge yourself to try one or more of these strategies during times of change. You’ll feel empowered by the difference you’ve made in your life.

Strategy #3: Step Up to Leadership

Teamwork is Critical to our Survival

As a leader, you need a solid team to thrive in times of change. Develop teams with psychological safety – a shared belief that interpersonal risk-taking is accepted – to support a healthy, productive work environment. To create psychological safety on your team, ask good questions and model intense learning. By encouraging honesty and openness, you will build a culture that showcases the value of working through change together. Empower your team to feel confident in their ability to speak their mind.

Opportunity Through Crisis

Don’t buy into the myth that men are better leaders in a time of change. There is no inherent ability to succeed that escapes women leaders. Now is the time to move past zero-sum approaches. When you signal that you do not intend to fight, others often soften their stance. Try to ask for the help you need. You can thrive in times of change and pave the path forward to success.

Learn More

Interested in exploring more tips to surviving in changing times? Watch Science Meets Practice: Women's Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus from our Leading Through Crisis series.

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