How a healthcare executive came through the pandemic
The 2020 pandemic shook the world and forced leaders everywhere to step up. Loretta Barnes, CEO of a healthcare organization, was no exception. As a seasoned executive with several successful turnarounds under her belt, Loretta was ready to take on the challenge. But she credits her success to her coach and their collaborative efforts, which enabled her to “think clearer” and make progress during the height of the pandemic.
In Loretta’s case, having a coach before the pandemic meant she had developed the competency of taking time away from reacting to events so that she could calm down and be more intentional with her interactions. Once the pandemic hit, this new habit allowed for “thinking clearer” and working with her team to open a COVID unit instead of running from it. The ability to step away from any preconceived notions or ideas allows leaders to gain new insights into what needs to be done in order to reach their goals.
The Broaden-and-Build Theory
In addition to providing valuable feedback and objective guidance, coaching helped Loretta experience something Barbara Fredrickson calls the broaden-and-build theory, which states that positive emotions help broaden our thinking to make better decisions, build something new, or improve upon existing systems or processes. By taking time away from worrying about the pandemic, Loretta was able to broaden her thinking about handling it, which resulted in successful outcomes for both her and her team as they opened a COVID unit instead of running from it…
While it’s true that positive emotions are often the focus of the broaden and build theory, negative emotions can also be helpful in certain contexts. Negative emotions provide important information about our environment that can help us make more informed decisions. For example, feeling anxious or fearful can help us identify potential threats or risks that we should avoid. Similarly, feeling angry or frustrated can give us insight into problems that must be addressed to move forward.
So what is the point?
It’s always tricky when faced with adversity, but sometimes having someone who understands exactly what you’re going through can help you find solutions you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. That’s exactly what happened with Loretta Barnes when she had leadership coaching during one of the most challenging times in recent history—the 2020 pandemic. With help from her coach, Loretta experienced Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory, which allowed her to think more clearly about how best to approach this situation, ultimately leading to successful outcomes for herself and her team at work. By leaning into adversity rather than running away from it, Loretta showed us managing difficult situations in business can help benefit current and future projects!