What separates successful social leaders from the rest of the pack in the time of Covid-19?

Group 1: Flurry of activity

Group 2: Radio silence

Group 3: Business as usual

Group 4: Tone deaf

This does my head in. I will not do business with strangers. Ever.

Connect and pitch? Tell ’em they’re dreaming….

So, how do you go from good to great?

We’re ALL learning as we go.

And many of these lessons are sudden and harsh.

Step 1: Step back and make room for empathy

Step 2: Decide to be a social leader right now

  1. How are they feeling right now?
  2. What’s top of mind for them?
  3. What is their greatest challenge?
  4. Can I help them overcome this challenge?
  5. Is my usual focus relevant?
  6. Should I pivot to ensure I am being of service to my community during this time?

Putting yourself in your audience’s shoes is the centre of any strategy for speaking up.

This is why empathy is critical.

How we are reacting to the pandemic


  1. Financial insecurity caused by job loss and pay cuts
  2. That their government can’t handle it
  3. Getting sick with COVID19 or any other sickness that needs hospitalization
  4. Scared that loved ones will get sick
  5. Scared of being unable see sick loved ones before they die or not being able to attend their funeral
  6. Fear for one’s emotional or physical safety in abusive home situations


  1. Disappointment over cancelled plans
  2. Difficulty focusing, especially if one is working from home
  3. Accepting the things we can’t change about the situation
  4. Struggling with self-honesty/awareness
  5. Overcoming feelings of helplessness
  6. Discipline: how to start the day off right and stay on track
  7. Making space to think and reflect
  8. Staying positive
  9. Finding space to share feelings
  10. Difficulty handling strong feelings in a healthy, constructive way
  11. Social media-based comparison of oneself to others
  12. Staying fit — body and mind
  13. Constant state of anxiety
  14. Physical challenges of working in the home environment — back aches, poor internet, etc.
  15. Attempting to parent, home-school, and care for dependents while getting work done
  16. Feelings of inadequacy, self-pressure to be more productive when we just want to sleep
  17. Uncertainty about the future
  18. Excessive emotionality, big ups and downs
  19. Deep sadness, grief in the absence of normal channels and rites for expressing it
  20. Feelings of guilt and grief about human greed, selfishness, and inequalities laid bare by the pandemic
  21. Struggling with the pace of change
  22. Depression
  23. Sleep trouble — insomnia or excessive tiredness
  24. Over doing drinking, eating and other forms of self abuse
  25. Conflict and arguments due to being cooped up

Additional challenges for parents and caregivers

  1. How to cope with the constant distractions/interruptions of children learning at home
  2. How to make this time a positive experience for children
  3. Marriage security/divorce
  4. Family clashes in isolation
  5. Fear of family members at risk
  6. How to keep children focused and learning
  7. How to keep children fit and let them release physical energy
  8. How to help children have a balanced relationship with screen-time and devices when their entire learning is online right now

Leaders are asking the following questions

  1. How do we cope when we need to be strong for others?
  2. How do we stand the uncertainty?
  3. How do we create a successful collaborative environment when our employees are working from home?
  4. How do I effectively communicate digitally?
  5. How can I be successful on video?
  6. What does it even mean to communicate “successfully” in a crisis? What role does authenticity need to play?
  7. How do I stay in touch without employees feeling I’m micromanaging them?
  8. What should I be asking my employees right now? How can I make sure they feel heard?
  9. How do I reassure my teams, even when I am not feeling reassured myself?
  10. How do I keep my team engaged and positive?
  11. How do we lead at a time when I don’t know where things are going?
  12. How can I take care of my employees’ mental health? How can I take care of my own?
  13. How do I adjust to working in a home environment, especially as it looks so unprofessional?
  14. Who can I speak to when I need to talk? Who can help me manage right now?

People would like:

  1. Help, clarity, wisdom
  2. Advice on where to access truth, especially with trust so damaged in society
  3. To create meaningful connections
  4. A sense of what “after” might look like
  5. To feel understood, to have the opportunity to share struggles and express emotions
  6. Practical advice on distance working and maintaining a normal routine when we all have different priorities right now
  7. A space to slow down in order to take a look, reflect, and come out of this difficult time stronger than before
  8. Advice on decision-making in difficult times and under stress
  9. Clear boundaries with peers and bosses
  10. Counsel on where to go for government assistance and other forms of help available to them
  11. To have fun, be distracted, have a laugh

Leadership grounded in positivity promotes the following:

  1. Hope for a new future
  2. Positive reflection
  3. Opportunities for innovation
  4. A chance to build a sustainable world
  5. Reaching out, reaching in
  6. Valuing the gift of pain
  7. Creating goodwill and opportunities to help others
  8. A re-grounding in old skills from the past that can help people now
  9. Acknowledgement that the whole world is vulnerable, and embracing the opportunity for positive change
  10. Time for building and nurturing important relationships
  11. Building and nurturing a sense of community and connectedness
  12. A chance to focus on Ikigai
  13. Focusing on the future and a sense of purpose

Step 3: Take the pulse

Step 4: Know where you want to lead them

Here are some examples of focus

  • An educator on the pandemic — whether as an academic or as a professional who has dug deep and found reputable sources of information
  • A mental health professional who can help address the significant issues happening around the world
  • A beacon of positivity and inspiration — the world needs the sunshine people right now
  • A futurist leading your audience out the other side of the pandemic
  • A sales leader discussing the fine art of soft selling in hard times
  • A voice of calm wisdom
  • An economist helping make sense of navigating the economic crisis
  • A yoga passionista helping others to embrace a practice for health of body and mind
  • A practical leader speaking to employees directly, honestly, and reassuringly
  • An entertainer or a comedian — because laughter is an essential form of release
  • A strategist making sense of how a given profession or industry will transform out the other end of this crisis
  • An environmentalist or sustainability expert helping connect the dots between the pandemic and the climate crisis, as well as a road map to a new future

Step 5: Be clear and real about your intentions

We must act as though the meaning we give this moment will change lives.

Social leadership is empathy-driven and audience-focused

Use this chance to be a beacon of hope during dark times.

Be the reassuring leader your community needs.

Be a voice of calm in the storm.

18 Steps to An All-Star LinkedIn Profile — free until 24th May 2020

Are you a Social CEO?

Want to claim your stage?

Want proof social leadership transforms business and attracts customers?

Want to be a super star online?

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Andrea T Edwards

Andrea T Edwards


Life can be awesome, it can also be tough, a positive attitude doesn't always work, but it's better than being miserable @UncommonAndrea @AndreaTEdwards