By Louis Forbringer Ph.D. and Suzanne Miklos Ph.D.

Some leaders put coaching on hold during a crisis when in fact it should be the opposite. It is easy to dispense with personal care, grooming, and development during this pandemic. One-on-ones move from development to operational issues. For many, there are urgent tasks which drown out the developmental opportunities that only exist in a crisis. Some people are in a state of flight, fight, or freeze. Coaching helps bring the frontal cortex back online to make sense of the events, determine what is controllable and what is not and to set priorities for action. But, this type of coaching, though valuable, is not the highest use of your coaching efforts.

The true value of coaching is to capitalize on the development opportunities embedded in a disruption.  Coaches know that disruption or “breaks” are valuable because the introspective opportunities that appear during them are not available to us when our worlds flow smoothly. Don’t miss the opportunity to building capacity that translates to the future. The following questions provide a platform for developmental conversations that will bear fruit.

  1. What are we made of? Demonstrating grit and resilience is only possible when times are tough. Senior leaders can observe and provide feedback to their managers on how they are exhibiting empathy, optimism, and social intelligence in helping their teams work collaboratively and productively in a remote context.
  2. What are my leadership intentions? Having a personal mission statement for the difference that each of us wants to make in our organizations and the lives of others provides clarity and focus. We ask our clients to look back at their assessment results and development plans to intentionally identify strengths that can be uniquely leveraged in this moment.
  3. What does my team need from me that they didn’t need 3 months ago? As an available, responsive leader, there is a need to be fluid and available. For some people, “other duties as may be required” is the whole job some days. Listening and responding with flexibility are needed. Some leaders who do not value social contact at work have found that they need to find creative ways to build comradery and levity for their teams.
  4. What one or two competencies can uniquely be developed in crisis? One client is focusing on Innovation on the fly and looking for opportunities to reward and thank managers for experimenting and adapting even if it doesn’t work out. Risk taking and learning can be accelerating during uncertainty.
  5. What strategic and collaborative opportunities are suddenly available? Reflection and stepping back to look at the bigger picture are difficult when work feels especially chaotic and busy. However, leaders and organization’s who thrive manage to pause, think and see opportunities to advance strategic goals. Once the storm has passed, the opportunities will have passed as well.

“Change your thoughts and you change the world”  Norman Vincent Peale