In Action, Leaders

“You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Most years, we start off the month of January with big ideas about growth, or increased profitability, or some new product or location, or any number of “business” things that excite us.  We make lots of big plans involving sales and marketing and distribution and delivery and training and development and on and on.  It’s the meat & potatoes stuff of our businesses, and it’s the stuff we normally expect to deal with.

I think this year is different, and not just for the obvious, surface-level reasons.  Yes, there’s a global pandemic and all the challenges that come with that.  But to me, what makes 2021 look unique is that I think our biggest challenge as leaders has to do with a topic most people aren’t comfortable talking about – mental health.

I’m not a psychiatrist, or psychologist, or therapist, or counselor, or anything like that.  I don’t have any doctorate-level ideas about mental health.  But I know from observation and experience over the past 10 months that people are tired, stressed, and mentally on edge.

I don’t think this is probably news to anybody reading this.  Most leaders I talk to agree that the mental state of the people in their organization is much more fragile than usual.  The challenge is what to do about it.

Again, I don’t have a lot of great answers.  I will say this:  as a leader, you have, to a certain degree, been entrusted with the individuals who are part of your organization.  You have an obligation to actively try to help, not just so they can be more productive employees, but so they can be happier people.

I used the word “actively” on purpose.  I don’t mean you personally have to solve all their problems.  But I do think you can’t just give them a number to call and think you’ve done your job.  Yes, those kinds of things are helpful, no question.  But you can’t just leave it at that.

What kinds of things could you do to help ease some of what people are feeling?  Are there things the company could do itself?  Are there individuals or organizations outside the company who could be actively engaged?  Are there specific things in your business that are making things worse?  Better?

I don’t have many answers, and certainly every situation, every individual is different.  I’m only certain that as leaders we have an obligation to try and have an impact.  And not just because we want the company to do well, but because we want our employees to do well.  You are in a position to make an impact.  How will you do it?

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