How to Lead When Nobody is Left

April 2, 2020

By: Theresa Lambert, Founder and Mastery TCM Coach of Theresa Lambert Coaching & Consulting


In the past weeks COVID-19 has left a significant impact on the World, but particularly the Hospitality & Tourism Industry has been majorly hit. Flights have been grounded, hotels and restaurants shut down and many people have been laid off or lost their jobs altogether. Major tourism destinations are empty, as the world seemingly has hit pause.

If you are a business owner or leader of an organization, chances are you are left to lead your organization through this crisis. But you may wonder…

 “How to lead when nobody is left?”

Managing people and operations is at the heart of being a leader in the hospitality Industry. Every day is different, new guests, new opportunities and new challenges. Solving problems in this fast pace environment is the name of the game. At the heart are all of its people, looking for direction, delivering superior experiences, hosting meetings & events and assisting guests with their needs.

But the world has changed and now, while temporarily, nobody is left. Uncertainty has taken over. How long will this last? When can we open again? Who will travel when the “social isolation and staying at home order” is lifted? Are we able to open again? What do I do now?

Take a breath! Here are 6 steps to take right now to stop spinning in despair and start leading from a place of possibility 

“The True Test Of Leadership Is How Well You Function In A Crisis.” ~ Brian Tracy

Step #1: Accept that you are not in control of external forces

This step is about surrender. Take out a pen, set your timer on 2-min and write down all the things you cannot control. When you are done, read it out loud. Notice your emotion as you read it, how does it make you feel? Then write down your emotions on the same piece of paper. (yes you might feel angry, frustrated, sad, stressed, annoyed, upset – write it all down!)

Step # 2: Write down the worst case scenario

Set your timer for another 2-minutes. Go ahead and write down the worst possible outcome from this, your biggest fear. What will happen to you, your organization, your teams. This might feel brutal, devastating, upsetting, just let it all out!

“If fear can not be articulated it can not be conquered” ~Stephen King

Step #3: You are in charge of your own life- we ALWAYS have a choice!

Look at what you’ve written down. Read it out loud, then take a pen and scratch it all out and answer these 3 questions:

If the worst case scenario happens, what would you do to recover? /What’s your personal recovery game plan?(write down all steps)

Who am I going to do this for?

Knowing I have a game-plan for the worst case scenario, how do I feel now?

Step #4: Step into the drivers seat

Firstly, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just done some tough inner work. Naming our fears and emotions that come along with it, is uncomfortable. But you would not have stepped into a leadership role, or started a business or chose to manage teams and organizations if you were not at least a little bit willing to be uncomfortable.

Now, let’s turn this ship around and visualize a new possibility. Take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and tune in to your inner wisdom. Connect with your strengths, remember the hardships, challenges and problems you have solved over the years. Really tune in to your most steady powerful self. What is within your control right now? How do you want show up for yourself, your teams, your family, your business right now in this crisis? What is the most important thing you can do right now? What is one goal that you can set for yourself right now that can become your anchor as you navigate this?

When you’re ready, open your eyes and right down 3 things:

  1. Your current goal/focus
  2. The feeling you want to create
  3. the 5-steps you will have to take to accomplish your goal

Step #5: Leverage the power of positive thinking

Mindset is everything! Not just right now, but generally in life. if we have a positive outlook on life, more good things can happen. We open up our world to new possibilities and opportunities.

Have you ever experienced sitting in a coffee shop working away and totally shut out the noises but the second someone called your name you heard it instantly? Or perhaps you have never heard of lets say the new Bar that just opened downtown until your friend tells you that they make THE best margaritas, and next thing you know, you see adverts for the bar and tips and articles on how to make the best margarita?  

Now some of you may think that this is Alexa who’s listening, but that’s not it…

This genius tool is called RAS (reticular activating system) – it is what you could call an attention filter inside your brain. It constantly filters out incoming data and cut’s out what’s considered unimportant so only what’s truly important can come through. This system was programmed, by no other than your’s truly (yourself) and other people from your past. 

So why the hell am I talking about this? Well the truth is that we control our RAS, this means if we constantly tell ourselves that we are stressed and busy and this crisis will take us down, the RAS will point out every single piece of evidence that this is in fact true, leaving us feeling more stressed and likely more exhausted. This is why “confirmation bias” exists, because our mind LOVES reading and hearing and seeing things you agree with! 

So, in order to change our experience, we must become masterful at visualization, we must start to clearly and super specifically define our dreams and goals and desired state of mind. Why? because that way you are recruiting your RAS to make this new thing a priority that is valuable and must take priority over other things.You need to cognitively and emotionally identify a target and then your RAS will work non-stop to help your Mission! Pretty incredible.

So from now on, until forever make it a habit to ask:

Whats going well? (not matter how small)

Whats the positive feeling I want to bring to this day?

What’s one step I can take today to move closer to my most important goal?

Step #6: Take empowered Action

The only thing left to do, is to go ahead, complete these steps and then take action every day! You may not have people to lead, but you still have yourself. You may not know what’s happening next, but you know what you can do now.

Leading starts with YOU, it’s not about other people, it’s how you show up. It’s about leading the way, when nobody sees it. It’s about taking Action and sometimes that Action also includes to pause, listen, rejuvenate, dance in your kitchen, read, laugh out loud in your empty office until your stomach hurts, do the internal work so you can execute the external work like a Rockstar.

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