Being present in the uncertain times COVID 19 has brought us

Keren Tsuk
4 min readApr 12, 2020

We are all experiencing in all its intensity, the meaning of VUCA. We are experiencing significant uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. We don’t know when this period will be over, how it will end, and what its impact will be. We are facing a huge challenge as to how we are to act and work. We are required to work remotely for some of us with our kids and families at home. This situation requires us as individuals and managers not only to be able to manage oneself better but also to manage our workers remotely, to be present for them, and to maintain their engagement throughout this challenging time.

Each one of us is going through a challenging time as a result of the COVID 19 epidemic. Everyone reacts differently to these uncertain times, and different mechanism arises within each one of us. Some of us are calmer and can contain this challenging time, while others experience more negative thoughts, fear, and anxiety. Hence, the first challenge we need to embrace is being able to manage ourselves and being able to be present for ourselves, our employees, clients, and our families.

In uncertain times, more than ever, we need to embrace mindfulness and awareness. This means being able to connect to our emotions, sensations, thoughts, or an experience that we are going through in a nonjudgmental way and without being managed by it. Otherwise, if we behave upon our fears, we will allow our feeling to govern us, and there is a greater chance that we will experience anxiety and won’t be able to function. Also, on the opposite side, if we disconnect from our unpleasant feelings of stress and continue “business as usual” without being mindful of our emotions, there is a good chance that within a short time, these feelings will explode and will manage us.

The interesting thing is that usually in a time of crisis or even a war we are required to be active and are in a doing mode. However, during this unique period, we are required to pause, to withdraw into oneself and our homes. Now, more than ever, the ability to pause through meditation or other activities is a crucial element to be able to contain the situation. Practicing meditation increases our ability to contain and be able to be present in uncertain times with our unpleasant feelings. It increases our resilience, facing challenging times, and the ability to be mindful and present.

As leaders, it’s crucial that we can manage ourselves in order to be present for our employees. Also, as leaders, we need to embrace various tensions.

The first tension we need to embrace is the tension between the need to be emphatic toward our employees and, at the same time, to be demanding. In these uneasy times, it’s crucial to be emphatic toward our employees and to contain them emotionally. Some people may need to share that they are having a difficult time working from home with the kids, taking care for an elderly parent, or for any number of reasons. However, at the same time, we need to be demanding and assertive and to communicate our expectations clearly. The way to handle this tension is by creating clear communication. It’s essential to be very clear about our expectations, what are the priorities etc. and to enable each and everyone to manage themselves and their time, according to their abilities and restrictions, and to check their output and the results and not how they were achieved.

Another tension is between the self and others. In this pandemic situation, we are all quarantined or self-isolated. But at the same time, we all looking to be part of a community, to feel that we are not alone, and to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness.

As leaders and managers, it important in these challenging times to have authentic and transparent communication with our employees. We can arrange a company meeting or a team meeting via zoom or another platform to share what we are going through as a company. These times require us to embrace the ability to be vulnerable and human and to share the common feelings we are all experiencing uncertainty and complexity. Our ability as managers to speak about fears and the complex emotions and thoughts we are holding can give legitimation to an emotional discourse and the complexity that we are all experiencing as humans. And at the same time, as leaders, we need to hold the space and to put out our vision and show that we are here together to handle the situation and search for new and creative ways, when needed, to adjust ourselves to fulfill our vision.

As we, as individuals and leaders, are more present and able to be in the unknown and uncertain area, we can better embrace and handle various tensions and enable the accurate and creative solution to emerge. Instead of working out of our automatic behaviors and producing more of the same solutions that are not relevant to the situation. We are going through a transformation, and we don’t know how it will impact the economy, the markets, and the new business models. Hence, now is the time to be mindful and listen deeply to ourselves, others, and the community, in order to be able to reinvent ourselves, our process, and our products and services.

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Keren Tsuk

Dr. Keren Tsuk is the Founder of Wisdom To Lead, consulting company which specializes in working with senior management teams & leadership. www.wisdomtolead.co