By Mo Hagan

With a global pandemic underway, and concerns over our own health, safety and personal and professional security mounting, doubt, anxiety, and fear distract us from being at our best as leaders.

This is a time of unprecedented knowing; knowing what to do, how to do it and when to pivot and change course and all of this uncertainty creates significant stress and anxiety which steals our energy to lead ourselves let alone our team.  The new and heightened levels of Fear: “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out), “FOGO“ (Fear Of Going Out) and now “FORO” (Fear of Running Out)—fear of running out of resources, time and money—keeps us awake at night.  To add insult to injury, we now feel doubt to levels that we never before experienced.  Up to now, we have always strived to be positive in everything we do and achieve. All of a sudden, the word ‘positive’ scares us, and we only want to hear ‘negative’ and ‘flatten the curve’.  More doubt comes with the understanding of our new reality; that on the other side of this COVID crisis everything will be different and what was an ‘essential’ part of our business—the physical vibe and connection between us and our people (peers and members)—is now deemed non-essential and forbidden.

We must never forget that while we are and will likely continue to practice physical distancing for an uncertain length of time, and will extend beyond the time when we get to re-open our clubs and studios, as an essential step to ensure safety and to lower the risk for the spread of this virus, nothing can or will ever replace the emotional connection and the ‘vibe’ that exists between people within a tribe.  The story you will want to tell when you look back on this historic time in our lives will be one of pride, having led your tribe through the crisis of COVID to become stronger and better.  Creating a vibe that can outrun anxiety, fear and doubt will be both your greatest challenge and opportunity as a leader.  We will be judged not by our own gain but by the sum of the total of the lives we positively influenced on our team – within our tribe.

Let us step back for a moment and recall what motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.  The people you surround yourself with have the biggest influence on your behaviour, attitudes, and results, and will shape who you become. According to research by social psychologist Dr David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.  Now put yourself in the role as leader and ask yourself “What can I do to create a healthy ‘vibe’ within my tribe?”.

Here are 7 ways you can create a better “vibe” within your tribe:

Communicate, communicate, and communicate— All of us have been glued to our devices and have watched or listened to the news and media outlets far more than ever before. We are relying on our political, media, spiritual, medical and fitness leaders to provide us with relevant, honest, and up-to-date information and advice. Leaders who influence do so by being honest, transparent, authentic, and consistent. You can never go wrong by over communicating especially during a time of uncertainty.

Remember WHY you are leading — Knowing and reminding yourself WHY will be your compass and help keep you on the right path even if you are not quite certain where this path is taking you.  While it is okay for now to feel lost (we all do), knowing WHY you are here in this adventure called ‘life’ will pave the path forward for you and for your tribe to follow you.

Leadership, in the euro-Greek language means “Path-Finder”. When you know WHY, the way will appear. Your WHY is your compass. What story will you tell people about this historical global pandemic? What character will you play on this road to recovery and beyond? Live today the story you want to tell tomorrow. Act each day as if you have successfully led your army through this war and you will create the vibe for your tribe that makes you proud.

Emotionally connect with others — Reach out to family, friends, your members and clients and check in with them. Simply ask them how they are doing, and you will be amazed at how such a small gesture on your part will impact others and reduce their anxiety, fear and doubt associated with isolation and physical disconnection. Find new ways to connect virtually to keep your tribe engaged with you and each other. Virtual ‘hangouts’, ‘happy hours’, ‘book clubs’ and ‘events’ are popping up everywhere and on every platform.

Accept the challenge to learn something new — Be it a sport, new skill, or technology, challenge yourself by getting out of your comfort zone by learning something new. In doing so you will become more comfortable with change. This will help to build resilience and demonstrate to your tribe it is okay to get uncomfortable. Getting uncomfortable on a regular basis will spark both creativity and build emotional intelligence.

Take care of yourself and then others — Reach inside of yourself to care for your health and well-being so that you can best serve others. Being selfish will give you oxygen to become selfless.  Think of the in-flight safety video on airplanes — ‘put your own oxygen mask on first so that you then help others’. There is no better time than now during quarantine, when perhaps we cannot physically train others, to reassess our health and our habits and train ourselves.

Empower yourself to be a champion of change — We have had to face and will continue to face enormous changes in our industry and lives now and for a long time to come as a result of this crisis. Change is inevitable and we can choose to move with it or be moved by it.

Often, challenge with change is the fear and uncertainty that accompany it. So step into fear and be open and resilient as this is a time like no other time in history where you do not have to know if what you are doing is even right because no one really knows what is right or what is wrong as we have never been through such a time of uncertainty before. Leading by example will build the vibe within your tribe that change is invited as well as necessary.