During economic uncertainty, feeling happy, healthy and prosperous can be near impossible. When existence and lifestyle are threatened, your personal needs, like survival, will dominate your actions. For most of us, the need to stay in control drives our decisions so we work very hard not to lose. For others, the need for security dominates, while others may fear embarrassment from making mistakes. Regardless of the type of basic need, as human beings our needs must be satisfied in order to achieve personal well-being. In this economically challenged environment, you should expect needs to drive the following attitudes within yourself, your family and your peers at work:
- Personal rights become more important than personal responsibility. Actions and decisions that are usually based on values and reflective of personal responsibility are replaced by selfish thinking and “my rights” thinking. An intense preoccupation with my rights suppresses the higher value of personal responsibility when wellbeing is threatened. An overwhelming survival instinct becomes the justification for looking out for self interests; level one in Maslow’s pyramid. What I “will” do to meet my needs is always stronger than what I “should” do.
- Scarcity mentality keeps people from sharing recognition and profit. The most threatening risk is not higher prices or loss of revenue, but how you deal with it. Your attitude toward setbacks and confidence in the ability to manage challenges becomes the critical factor in determining the outcome you will get. Stephen Covey says, “People with a scarcity mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production.”
Maintaining a sense of well-being will require commitment in the following areas of your life and business:
- Keeping a long-term outlook. My mother always reminded me that tomorrow will be a better day. Uncertainty in the present is kept in proper perspective by believing in the possibilities of the future. Warren Buffets advice on being a good investor is appropriate advice for managing economic challenges. He said, “To be an investor, you must be a believer in a better tomorrow.”
- Encouraging leadership and responsibility. It will be important for everyone in your organization to disperse leadership downward and outward in order to create the required level of responsibility necessary for sustaining the sense of well-being. When this is done effectively and through intentional actions/efforts, commitment levels rise and the future of the group will actually become stronger. The crisis can serve your team well by creating opportunity for a rallying call to rise above individual fears and embrace the larger challenge together.
- Take responsibility for decisions. Nobel-prize – winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains two factors that characterize good decisions: “well-calibrated confidence” and “correctly-anticipated regret”. Decision-making that seeks to uphold a sense of responsibility and be a good steward requires each member of the team to anchor there confidence in honest objective understanding of the situation. It also involves thinking about how we will react if we are wrong in our decisions, before they are made.
- Mutual accountability. Commit to support each other and give permission to hold each other accountable to shared values. The culture or family where each member is acting in the best interest of those around them is the one that endures and thrives. Values-based leadership and management creates an environment of trust, support, and mutual accountability.