People look to leaders for guidance on what to do, what to expect and how to act. During uncertain and fluid times, the need for strong, calm, trustworthy leadership is more important than ever.
Psychologists’ research points to several ways that leaders — whether they are government officials, business managers, educators or parents — can improve their communication skills to maximize trust and minimize stress and anxiety:
People look to leaders to be calm and deliberate in their decisions and actions. Leaders who react to stressful events in highly emotional ways can add to people’s stress and anxiety. Leaders can start by slowing down, taking stock of their stress and understanding what is causing an emotional reaction. Even when facing the demands of a high-profile crisis, leaders must take breaks to reset and refocus.
Share information with empathy and optimism
In their communications, leaders should recognize the uncertainty and anxiety people are experiencing. This is especially important when leaders are communicating decisions that might add to people’s stress, such as a business closure or a reduction of work hours. Recognize that people who are anxious need their leaders to give them hope and a sense of control. A loss of control can contribute to a sense of helplessness. Leaders should make it clear that there is a path to a better future and let people know how they can contribute. Providing specific steps people can take will help them manage stress and worry and build hopefulness.