During the uncertain times surrounding the worldwide experience of the coronavirus, there is one thing we all have in common: stress.  Many leaders face stress throughout the course of their lives, causing many to develop various stress management techniques.  The challenge, in our current environment, is that there are few parts of our lives that are not directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19.  This causes a unique kind of stress experience, even beyond the typical definition of “chronic stress”, that few people are readily equipped to manage effectively.

“Over time, chronic stress makes us more susceptible to viruses and other diseases, at the very time we need our immune system at its peak” Steve Swavely, Ph.D., shared in a recent interview with the Self-Care for Leaders podcast.  “The good news is that we can combat that with our mind. We can create a more positive mindset.”

Positive Mindset Addresses COVID-19 Challenges

And while some may be tempted to dismiss the power of a positive mindset, the benefits are deeply rooted in neuropsychology.  Swavely obtained his Ph.D. in neuropsychology from Georgia State University and managed a neuropsychology lab and outpatient clinics at the Medical University South Carolina before joining the Truist Leadership Institute.  Since then, he has led a team of experts in the fields of psychology, educational leadership, and human resources, to create and deliver leadership and team development solutions that have had life-changing impacts for leaders around the world.  This made Swavely’s team the obvious choice when the Executive Team at Truist wanted to create a meaningful way to help leaders face the challenges of COVID-19.    Within a week of receiving the request from the Executive Team, Swavely and his team created and launched the podcast with its first eight episodes, which are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

This podcast comes at a critical time for many in leadership positions, who are scrambling to stabilize their organizations and communities.  Leaders are facing new levels of challenge in stress management, communication, conflict management, and team dynamics.  Strategies that were effective in the past may not be effective now.

“The Executive Team at Truist is sensitive to the incredible stress that everyone is under right now.  They wanted to make a difference in a meaningful way, which is why they asked the team at The Leadership Institute to create the Self-Care for Leaders podcast,” explained Anna Slaydon, host of the podcast.  But the podcast team recognized the need to be strategic in their approach to sharing these insights.  They designed each episode to be around 3-5 minutes long, allowing leaders to get valuable insights in a matter of minutes.  “This was a strategic decision,” Slaydon said. “Leaders don’t have time for resources that may possibly help them at some point in the future.  They need to prioritize their attention to resources that they know will help them right now.  This podcast delivers effective strategies that are rooted in psychology and proven by research.  Well worth the five minutes of time it takes to listen to each episode.”

How Does It Work?

Swavely explains the purpose of the podcast.  “There is a part of the brain that activates to create the fight, flight, freeze response.  We focus on survival and become defensive in nature.  We share ways to shift your thinking into the part of your brain involved with reasoning, problem solving and decision making.  The thinking part of the brain is activated, rather than the emotion part of the brain.  It’s about managing the limbic system so it doesn’t force your body into the fight, flight, or freeze function.  Instead, we activate the prefrontal cortex that allows us to do more thinking and make better decisions.”

At The Leadership Institute, they call this concept “Conscious Leadership”.  It’s a core component of the leadership and team development offerings that The Leadership Institute has been providing leaders and organizations for over 60 years.  It’s also foundational to their philanthropic strategy of gifting their leadership development programs to students and educational leaders around the country.

“But this podcast isn’t just for leaders of organizations.  We are all leaders and influencers in our lives. And we are having to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities.  We could all use a break from the intense stress we face on a daily basis,” says Slaydon.

Self-Care for Leaders joins a family of podcasts produced by The Leadership Institute, which also produces the Leadership Amplitude podcast and the Self-Care for Healers podcast.  All Leadership Institute podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.  For additional information about the Truist Leadership Institute, visit their website at www.truistleadershipinstitute.com.