Pandemic Fatigue: Leadership in Lockdown

Pandemic fatigue is real. And many of us are feeling it. Even if you don’t know it – exhaustion, emotional irritability, loss of resolve and determination, polarising emotional responses and stress induced incidents. 

These are all symptoms of what we are calling ‘pandemic fatigue’.  

It’s been a long almost 18 months since the pandemic became a common fixture in our vocabulary and our thoughts. The first wave of the pandemic was met with quickly actioned pivots, determination, heightened resolve, that fight or flight instinct. But that prolonged fight or flight feeling has been wearing us down and the effects are widely felt at all levels of an organisation – not just the top. 

On a personal level, we are all dealing with the pandemic differently, but united at work, we rally as one and feel like we need to be ‘on’ and to show up through these imminent waves as we did the first time. Especially as leaders, we are seen as the stability, the voice of reason, the person with answers to questions. Even the organisations and people that seem to be doing just fine are experiencing what has been coined ‘emotionally amputated’ or ‘an endless wait’. 

The whole world is exhausted, tired and drained. And so are you. 

Sentiments like ‘we’re all in this together’ have lost their meaning and are proving to be more annoyingly tedious than expected. We are all experiencing the pandemic differently right now. At first it was the unknown, the unprecedented that unified a nation, a country, a world. Now as countries are dealing with the virus and vaccine at different stages and levels of severity, it’s hard to think outside of our own little bubble. Our attentions have turned inwards and now we are focusing on how we’re really feeling. 

In the midst of a second lockdown for Sydney, we are feeling the fatigue stronger than ever. But how do we lead with resilience for our team’s sakes? 

To effectively lead our teams through these times, leaders must re-examine their personal emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is our ability to bounce back after a setback, your strength under pressure and how you fair in the face of a challenge. 

Our adrenalin reserves are depleted after months of over exertion and overuse of ‘it’s fine, we’re fine, everything is fine’. We’re exhausted after the go, go, go of pivoting, of adapting and re-adapting time and time again and of course from the unknown. 

So, how can you lead your exhausted team from a place of resilience and strength? For this post, we asked our Operations Manager, Eliza, to talk us through how she leads her team from a place of resilience and strength. 

From the desk of our Operations Manager, Eliza 

1. Daily check-ins  

One of the key changes was continuing our morning catchups with the team (which we initiated when COVID-19 hit) to check in on how they were feeling by asking them to share where they rate on a scale of 1 to 10. Over a year later and these are still going strong! These check-ins are so important as it provided a daily insight into the team’s and individuals mental wellbeing. Where team members shared 1-2 consecutive lower ratings, we would deep dive and work out ways to support the team member in any way possible to help them return to a more positive state of well-being.  

2. Daily gratitude  

Alongside our daily check-ins, we have also implemented a daily gratitude, focus for the day/week or a share. These help to remind the team of the bigger things they are grateful for, instead of becoming bogged down in negative feelings. It lifts the mood and gain an insight into each other’s lives and feelings. A focus can be work related or personal, as with a share. Having these open and honest conversations lifts spirits and puts the team in a positive and healthy mindset to start their day. 

3. Stop working!  

One other initiative was to encourage the team to take a week leave so that their health and wellbeing is optimal as we continue moving through phases of our external world, our internal world and our work world. It also helped the remainder of the team to work together, keeping our process and client experience smooth.

4. Mix it up at lunch  

Here at Corporate Edge, we always encourage healthy eating and exercise. We encourage team members to walk and pickup lunch orders, where we then all sit and enjoy our lunch breaks together. This gives us an opportunity to share our personal self with each other (work talk is not permitted!) Weather permitting lunches are spent outside in the fresh air. With this being one of our cultural rituals, we know that the team have had a healthy break in their day. It also encourages more personal connections within the team. 

As an organisation, you are somewhat responsible for the health and wellbeing of your team. However, as a leader, there are several things you can be doing for yourself (and should be doing), that will help you show up, be more present and fight fatigue as we endure this seemingly long haul to the finish line, together. 

Want to learn how you can be more resilient? In your personal life? In your leadership role? For your team? 

We have an entire online module dedicated to teaching you how to respond during that survival mode. When you choose to thrive, you build emotional resilience. Click the link for more information on our Emotional Resilience online learning module – which you can do right from the comfort of your own home!

To help guide you through your leadership and personal development journey, we have a number of micro-learning modules that are designed to develop the knowledge and skills of individuals, teams and leaders in areas such as personal development, leadership, management, strategy and culture. Click here for more information.


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