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How To Encourage Your People Through A Hard Time?

Updated: Feb 15

Whether personally or professionally, chances are that you're part of someone's support system. Chances also are that, as a leader, you're responsible for strengthening morale and keeping your people motivated in the midst of challenge. Now, there are a few options:


  • Door #1 : hyper-focusing on everything that's out of your control within the broader situation,

  • Door #2 : hyper-focusing on fixing anything as soon as possible, or

  • Door #3 : taking a minute to practice navigating complexity differently


The first option robs you of peace around what you have little control over. The second option robs your people from developing the skills they need to navigate change, challenge, and opportunity. The third option might be far less intuitive for your nervous system. Why? Because, if you're a 'high performer' or a 'high achiever', it's likely that you struggle with feeling stuck in a situation out of your control or needing to fix things immediately.


So, what are three core ingredients to supporting your people through a hard time? From my perspective, you need to play with your nervous systems instead of against them to increase their capacity to adapt to change/challenge/opportunity. Below, I describe these 3 ingredients based on what they add to your nervous system's capacity to adapt to change:


  • Self-regulation: working with your nervous system to help you settle down and be able to tap into solution-seeking/problem-solving behaviours

  • Co-regulation: connecting with others through safe relationships in an effort to connect, build trust, and tap into opportunity-seeking/creative/innovative behaviours collectively

  • Consistency: adding this new measure of success by identifying practices/relationships/places/experiences that you and your people can maintain consistently over the long-term


Now, how do you use these ingredients within different types of leadership? Well, I invite you to consider the following questions as you develop your own recipe in supporting yourself and your people through change/challenge/opportunity.


  • Self-leadership and self-regulation:

    • What support do you need to access consistently to be able to show up as the most regulated nervous system in the room consistently and over the long-term?

    • What skills/practices do you need to work on in order to practice actively listening, clear communication, and negotiation consistently and over the long-term?

    • How might you get clear about your Why, your values, and your purpose in order to model that behaviour for your people?

  • Team-leadership and co-regulation:

    • What information do you currently have access to and how might you gather more?

    • What is within your control in this particular situation and how might you leverage that to provide more certainty for your people?

    • What are the skills that your people need to develop/strengthen in order to navigate this situation in the future and how might you transfer your knowledge/expertise for them to access?

  • Business leadership and consistency:

    • What are 3 to 5 core behaviours that you and your people can come back to time and time again to hang in the tension long enough to get to possibility?

    • What is working well in the midst of change/challenge/opportunity and how might you support your people to build on those wins/behaviours?

    • How might you encourage greater connection/trust/collaboration amongst your people in order to increase their sense of physiological and psychological safety as they navigate a difficult time?


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