• Kat Hounsell

Covid-19 Series: A message for leaders

This is a message of support to all of you who lead others.

Whether you’re holding together a strategic vision for your organisation or managing a newly remote team on a daily basis, there is not a single leader who hasn’t had their confidence and competence stretched in the recent months.

I’m writing this post to you during Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 where the theme for the week is Kindness. Even though you will likely be reading this in the weeks still to come, kindness will continue to be a quality we need to cultivate amongst our teams. It has the power to remind us of our common humanity, strengthen our connections with others and build resiliency within ourselves.

This week Michael Saunders, CEO of Bibendum Wine and The Drinks Trust Chairman, wrote on LinkedIn of kindness, the power of relationships and how they create a sense of belonging. Alongside safety and dignity, belonging is a core human need that we all need to meet.

The art in leadership is how we meet these needs for ourselves whilst creating a physical and psychological environment where others can do the same… AND doing so with a keen eye on the vision and goals we have as an organisation.

It is not an easy task, especially when we consider that many of us find ourselves in positions of leadership without always quite knowing how we got here!


Perhaps you were the best in what you do so you were promoted to manage others to do the same; or an inner desire for challenge and a pay-rise led you to apply for a role that involved managing people; perhaps you had a vision to bring a new product to market and now you find yourself facilitating employees, associates and partners to make that happen.

You may be one of the lucky ones on the receiving end of quality mentoring and leadership development to help you make these transitions – although the reality is this often doesn’t come as standard. Some leaders find themselves in positions of seniority without the knowledge, tools and character development to truly own that space, and sometimes that encourages ego and fear to go into overdrive.

I’ve coached and supported leaders in all corners of the globe, from front-line supervisors through to Board level strategic drivers and here’s the thing… the task requirements of a role change however the themes of leadership challenges often remain the same.

One of those themes is burnout. Now recognised as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ by the World Health Organization and a risk for leaders who are depleting their energy levels by focussing solely on work and helping others rather than taking care of themselves.

We need to put on our oxygen mask first before we help others – our sky may have fewer planes flying however this metaphor continues to have resonance.

This is a message of encouragement for you, the leader - bring kindness to yourself as well as to others. As much as I would love for you to share these wellbeing articles with your team, I would love even more for you to remember that the advice is there for you too. And so is The Drinks Trust.


Finding life difficult? You’re #NotAlone.

Read here for where to access professional support.


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This article was originally written for The Drinks Trust as part of their COVID-19 updates. If you haven't heard of this wonderful charity then do pay their website a visit and see how you can support, or be supported, as a member of the drinks and hospitality industry.

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