COVID-19 has led to some pretty dramatic decisions being made. India announced locking down 1.3 billion people!

The question we need to ask is: is this a reaction, or a response, or an initiation? There is a critical difference to these. 

A reaction is habitual, a reflex, not thought through – in our model of human behaviour we see these as automatic pathways that activate quickly, almost immediately, and are simple primitive behaviours: ducking a flying object, startling in response to a shock, etc.

A response suggests more thought and consideration and something that is potentially better designed to deal with a situation. I can react to something someone says to me or I can respond. 

In situations such as a pandemic are the world’s leaders reacting or responding? In your current situation are your reacting or responding?

An underestimated subtle difference is speed: reactions are immediate but crude, responses are slightly slower (but can be quick) but refined. We need to see leaders with rapid responses. 

Responses require emotional control and so does initiation which requires positive thinking – in key situations then initiation becomes critical: starting new things, getting actions into play, creating momentum but critically also creating control.

Swift responses and rapid initiation that is what leaders need to show in times of crisis.

Are you reacting or responding? What are you initiating?

Free webinar on Friday 27th March will explore how the brain responds to crises situations and just why some of the above become difficult under stress. Sign up here.

Importantly we can also predict this behaviour in people’s personalities – emotional sensitivity and impulsiveness are two traits that predict potential negative reactions. Explore HBF assessments here.