Guidelines for leaders

Updated April 22, 2022.

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Regardless of the enterprise, be it a small business, corporation, government agency, or community-based organization, people look to their leaders for guidance in crisis regarding almost every aspect of their lives. People need clarity and direction, and above all, honesty.  As we transition from a pandemic to the endemic stage of COVID-19, people will continue to need leaders as they process the last two years and establish their new routines. Below are a few guidelines for leaders during this time.

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Lead by example

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Let your staff and community know what you are doing to care for yourself.

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Eat healthy. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and animal fats. Fruits and vegetables are critical.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
Be clear about the plans for your facility or business

Be honest about what you don’t know. Let your staff or community know that your plans may be fluid and subject to change. 

  • Hold a weekly briefing, even if nothing has changed. Depending on your work culture, you could do this by conference call, video conferencing, email, or text. 
  • Explain your reasons for the plans and actions you have taken. 
  • Include everyone.  Maintaining connectedness is important. 
Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • You may have more on your plate than you can handle. 
  • Trust your people more than ever. People will rise to the occasion
Take care of yourself and loved ones

Coping in the face of uncertainty

Disruptions and uncertainty during COVID-19 go beyond the disease itself. Defining our new normal in this current phase can also lend to feelings of uncertainty and stress. We may be worried about interacting with large groups or still feel fear about getting sick, especially if we or loved ones are at higher risk of serious illness. Adults over age 65, people with compromised immune systems, and those who cannot get vaccinated are all at higher risk. Anxieties that arose as a result of COVID’s impact may still persist and even hit harder as we move beyond the initial crisis.

It is normal for people of all ages to feel worried, frustrated, or even angry in the face of circumstances that frequently change or feel uncontrollable. We would encourage you to discuss these questions with trusted friends, family members or colleagues: 

  • How am I feeling about the current situation?
  • What fears, anxieties, or worries might be causing my emotions? 
  • How will the current situation impact my life and/or my loved ones and community?
  • What has helped me deal with stressful situations in the past, and how can I use them now?
Make a resiliency plan
  • Plan for the future, even a day or week at a time. 
  • Think about what you might want to accomplish in the future.
  • Identify your strengths and how to use them to benefit others in your community.
  • Identify what you can do now that may help your loved ones and community.
  • Make plans with others to check in, talk, and do activities together.

Dos and don’ts: the basics

Stay informed, but limit your exposure to the news. While it’s important to keep up with COVID-19 developments, it’s often tempting to keep reading or watching long after we get the news we need. Seek accurate, reliable information from trusted sources like CDPHE, CDC, and your local public health agency. Once you’ve taken in the news, discuss what you have learned with family and friends; this helps us process events and maintain some perspective. Share accurate information with others in your networks who might be hard to reach or have difficulty understanding.

Be careful about blame. It is human nature to look for someone to blame in times of crisis. Unfortunately, this is rarely helpful and often leads to increased irritability and frustration. No group, race, or ethnicity has any responsibility for the pandemic. Treating others with kindness and respect is necessary for our ongoing community cohesion, health and safety. We are all in this together.

Recognize what you do control. Put your time and energy into affecting what you DO have control over to increase your mental and physical health.

Don't

Don’t panic buy excessive quantities of supplies like masks and hand sanitizer. Buy what you need, but make sure others can get what they need, too.

Don’t use general social media for updates about the current situation. Social media contains a lot of inaccurate information and rumors that can often promote fear. Find your local, state, and national public health social media channels.

Do

Do frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Do carry a mask with you to wear in settings that require or recommend them.

Do clean surfaces in your home, and personal items such as cell phones, using regular household products.

Do continue to treat everyone with dignity, respect, and equity.

Do gather extra supplies you might want to have at home in case you need to isolate or quarantine.

Do make plans about how to manage if someone in your family or community becomes ill and needs extra support.

Do use your skills and resources to support others in your circle or community, for example:

Don't

Don’t spend too much time without moving. Getting up to stretch or going for a quick walk can help break up long periods of physical inactivity

Don’t forget to eat nourishing food throughout the day

Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs to excess.

Do

Do spend time getting fresh air and some sun. Go on a walk or sit outside.

Do exercise when possible. Find ways to release energy. Even exercising for short periods of time is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Doing yoga, pilates, and stretching can all help relieve stress.

Do sleep on a regular schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night.

Don't

Don’t dwell too long on the ‘what ifs.'

Don’t spend too much time with people who blame others, catastrophize the situation, or make you feel stressed.

Do

Do breathe deeply. Extra oxygen in the brain helps us to think more clearly and make rational decisions. 

Do practice grounding (muscle relaxation, breathing, mindfulness, emotion regulation) to help self-soothe if you become overwhelmed or anxious.

Do contact a trusted friend, family member, clergy or therapist for support or to check-in.

Don't

Don’t leave the news on all day or continuously scroll through your phone for updates.

Don’t make decisions based only on the choices of others. 

Do

Do make choices that are right for you and your loved ones. 

Do know your potential health risks and the risks of those close to you.

Do maintain your routines (keep a schedule of meals, bedtime, exercise).

Do question the reality of concerns/fears and discuss them with trusted individuals.

Do stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Do know who to contact with questions.

Don't

Don’t isolate.

Don’t cut off connection from friends and loved ones. 

Don’t spend too much time alone on computer, phone or TV screens.

Do

Do make plans to connect with others in ways that are comfortable for you.

Do schedule parallel activities (watch a movie, cook the same meal, do the same exercise video) with others whom you cannot see face-to-face. 

Do support others who may be struggling.