Emotions are contagious

There was a great discussion started last week by my good friend on Linked In, @rupertbryce – “Is fear more contagious than a virus?” It created a great discussion about the fact that emotions are contagious and that we need to change the messages so that the emotion we are creating is one of “opportunity seeking” and “collective intelligence”, “resilience” and “positivity”.

This week we have been inundated with great news stories, offers of help, free services, virtual connections, stories of strong leadership, and so much more.  There is something to said about the way we react in a crisis:

– “the true test of leadership is how we behave in a crisis”

It will be interesting to see how leadership is demonstrated over the next few months. In my own experience I am so proud of the different ways that that organisations, are responding to the threat created by uncertainty, their sudden lack of autonomy, the fear of contact/connection, and the insignificance we are reminded of when faced the impacts of the Coronavirus.

I was part of a Neuroscience in Leadership Study group recently and the John F Kennedy quote was raised as part of our discussion:

“when written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity”.


I have loved learning and sharing posts this week that are about our collective response in finding the “opportunity”.

A practice that can only result in positive outcomes for our customers and our employees.



1. Creating certainty – the purpose, values and behaviour in an organisation are all ways in which you can provide certainty in uncertain and volatile times. Consistent communication, decisiveness and human centred care are critical.

2. Taking stock – for some businesses the very challenges we face are allow us the time we need to get our “shit together”. For others who are nimble, flexible and decisive it is about finding the opportunity and adapting (home delivery, ready made meals). It’s a great time to decide what it is you have put off, been too busy to engage in or to start questioning the status quo.

3. Building on reliance – This isn’t the first challenge we have faced and it won’t be the last. It’s really important that we build on the good news and share personal and professional tips to build our resilience. Tools that we often talk about but take for granted – communication, listening skills, self awareness, connection in the absence of contact.

4. Putting people first – This is of course one of my favourites but the idea of making decisions that have our employees and customers needs as a priority. Whether it is changing the way we are working, to keeping people employed, to creating new ways of interacting with clients and customers.

5. Changing priorities – I loved a post by @dannylaffouf, Partner and Chief Strategy officer at The General Store who took photos of messages from kids and customers to their local supermarket staff who have copped a bettering over the last couple of weeks.

6. Adapting –organisations of all sizes that are adapting from barristers who are sharing car parks so that their staff are not exposed to our digitally challenged businesses who are connecting to Zoom or Skype and using Dropbox for the first time. To those organisations who are pushing through to be “ready” when we get started and to those who are leveraging the trend to promote local destinations that are a national treasure. To our employees who are upskilling, job sharing, redefining work to keep people in jobs and meet a new trend (home delivery) …I salute you.

7. Collective Intelligence – great ideas come from a collective of intelligence. A great post by @ was shared on my LI page yesterday and it invites people to comment on how we can create ideas to solve problems. It is such a great time to get into “deep work” and create an environment to have those “aha” moments that seem to slip between our fingers.

8. Connecting with purpose – sometimes its hard to make the right decision. Hayne enquiry right? “can we but should we”. It’s a great time to check the decisions we make against our purpose. Sometimes the fear of missing out (on revenue, on sales, and spending on employees fills us with panic). …so go back to your purpose so that these decisions are not clouded by System 1 thinking.

9. Identifying the gaps – we spend so much time working in the business and looking at data that is 12months old by the time we actually take stock of it. This is a great time to reduce

10. Being grateful – it is such a great time to take a moment to be grateful for our health, our families and our friends. There was a great shared post this week by a beautiful person @chrispower who outlined a poem by Kitty O’Meara “And the people stayed at home. And read books, and listened and rested and exercised and made art and learned new ways of being and were still.”…. What a great time to meet new people that you never had the chance to connect with…


1. Inspiring

There are so many stories of resilience but when I saw a neighbourhood in Italy connecting in song it made me look forward to the hugs and kisses and handshaking that we take for granted when we greet people and connect with people. https://youtu.be/nNxhSe4TiOQ

2. Great deeds summary: Just a few that come to mind.

a. Qld government has a Mentoring for Growth program and a number of mentors (of which I am one) are on call to have one on one virtual chats with business owners that would like to discuss their business challenges and discuss ways to overcome them. See here: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/growing-business/business-mentoring/mentoring-growth/register-business

b. The University of Melbourne has offered to reimburse expenses related to forfeited flights, accommodation and remote study workarounds by those students who have been affected by the Australian government’s continuing ban on entry to foreign nationals who have travelled through mainland China.

c. Positive Psychology has sent a free Crisis Kit out to people to help them cope with the uncertainty with a focus on emotional intelligence. https://positivepsychology.com/the-crisis-kit/

d. Qantas’ Alan Joyce has joined the growing list of airline chiefs taking pay cuts to tackle the coronavirus crisis. For the rest of the financial year (FY) ending 30 June 2020, Joyce will take no salary while the group executive management team will take a 30% pay cut.

e. Swift government assistance in China to support a struggling businesses who have lost revenue.

f. Walmart just announced $25million to donated to fight the virus.

g. Amazon said Tuesday that it was prioritising household essentials and medical supplies, acknowledging the explosive demand for basic essentials as a coronavirus mindset consumes consumer.

h. Facebook announced a $100 million assistance program for small businesses that take a financial hit due to the coronavirus.

i. Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada will temporarily move to a “to-go” model. Many local businesses in Australia are doing likewise.

j. Numerous grocers across the US are shortening store hours to help employees restock, clean and take “stock”. I am hoping that our Australian stores will follow suit given the pressure they have been under in the last couple of weeks.


Thank you to all my colleagues who have shared their stories to tell the good stories. To change the narrative.

I am sure we can each pull together a list of great examples of leadership and of businesses finding the opportunities to create resilience.