Much has been written on the topic of being a fearless leader; and also being a senior manager who uses respect, not the fear-factor, to move things along.

However, we are living in unique times. Now, the word ‘fear’ is more applicable to the mindsets of your teams.

Never before has assured, calm and emotionally intelligent leadership been more essential.

Workforces anxious and uncertain

For one thing, your staff all have their own personal nightmares to face, with concerns about the health of their loved ones, and themselves. The economic impact of the Coronavirus is also dominating their minds, and stoking fears of unemployment.

Added into the mix is countless staff consigned to working from home with no choice or time to prepare properly – practically or emotionally.

You may even be leading retail delivery and distribution teams who are under huge additional pressure. The ramifications of a massive surge in home delivery from the UK’s shops are making logistics a greater challenge than ever, especially for physical retailers who are switching to completely online operations.

Then, of course, there are those retailers currently “fighting the good fight” to fill shelves in supermarkets, which is another issue creating complexities throughout supply chains.

The test of true leadership

This surely is the time when the value of leadership – as opposed to management – will come to the fore. The importance of not getting so bogged down in firefighting, that you lose sight of the emotional needs of both your teams and yourself.

Leadership under such stress and uncertainty does not involve false platitudes or vague promises. It can be as simple as demonstrating that you are aware of their pressure points and anxieties and that you share them.

People need leaders who are humans, not machines.

However, the next step would be to be positive and assured on the areas you can be certain of. That largely pivots on the importance of maintaining cohesion, working towards the same goals, staying motivated to fulfil roles and responsibilities.

This could involve taking time out from battling with data, the latest Government updates and logistical practicalities. It may need leaders to take a moment to calm their own fears, breathe, and then connect with their teams in a comforting way. Checking in and giving them time to ‘vent’, rather than hurtling onwards in the battles ahead.

Please contact us at Anthony Gregg if we can help you to ‘ground’ yourself as a leader and explore your own mental health and coping mechanisms. We want to be part of the solution and the changing retail landscape of the UK.