The countless advice articles popping up in my feed could roughly be divided into three major themes: 1) Managing remote work/teams while maintaining some semblance of order at home, 2) transitioning back to normal (whatever that will mean), and 3) preparing for the future and new business growth. While repositioning business strategy and the need for empathic leadership are widely discussed, there is surprisingly little insightful advice on the lessons learned during this crisis and how they could be used to train future leaders. We need to do both — help leaders adapt and adjust to attract new business AND prepare our leaders for future disasters.
This is not a new concept— military exercises, sports training, mock debates, dress rehearsals, and MBA programs all work by employing hypothetical stressful situations in order to achieve real-life agility during “showtime”.
My son is a Div-1 fencer. Over the years I have seen the results of deliberate practice. In addition to the obvious physical benefits, team spirit, and learning the importance of falling and getting up, sports training gave him the ability to think through all the “what ifs” during training in order to be ready to not panic and freeze in the high-stress situations of actual competitions.
This line of thinking led me to delve into stress inoculation training with my clients.
Preparation is essential. The funny thing about our brain is that we cannot be simultaneously stressed and relaxed. When we are relaxed, we think clearly; when we are stressed, we are “frozen.” By continuously modeling progressively more stressful situations in a safe training environment, we are better able to think through the best responses, so when we are in a real crisis, we have the tools to perform. Just like an athlete training for a competition, we need to train future leaders to be prepared for upcoming crises.