“We’ve been very clear as a leadership team that winning the hearts and minds of our employees is critical. It is actually one of our strategic objectives, but we can only do that if people feel like they truly belong. And they can only feel like they truly belong if they feel that we are supporting them.” – Marisa Daly
The COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, contributed to a heightened level of loss and trauma, and people are dealing with these issues in different ways. To build an inclusive organization, leaders need to create safe environments where everyone can share their hurts and losses and feel supported through any form of crisis, rather than being left alone with a deep feeling of isolation.
For this interview, Ebere Akadiri sat with Marisa Daly, the Senior Director, HR Africa at American Tower Corporation, for a conversation on the importance of resilience in leadership, her story of resilience and surviving Cancer, and how to deal with or support employees who may be experiencing or have experienced traumatic situations. This interview is part of the Leadership Conversation series and is now on Spotify and Apple podcast.
Her first reaction to her cancer diagnosis?
“My first thought was that I am going to die. My second thought was that I am not going to see my children grow up”, Marisa responded. She went on to admit that she quickly decided that it was in her best interest to put together a plan for survival. This was the point when her humanly survival instinct kicked in and she admitted that it helped her create a strategy that would guarantee her long-term survival.
Her thoughts about persevering despite fear and uncertainty?
Marisa admitted that although her journey of loss and grief is not unique as many other people have had to deal with the same, whether or not it was related to cancer or any other health issues, the feeling of grief can be lonely and terrifying. Even almost crippling. Her turning point came on the operating table when she experienced a sudden realisation that she wanted to live. After this point, she decided to take her journey one day at a time with the end goal of surviving.
How she is using her personal experience and position as a Human Resources executive to support employees who may be experiencing or have experienced traumatic situations and build a more supportive environment for employees in her organization?
Marisa advised that it is important for everyone to develop kindness as a way for surviving through the ongoing pandemic, as well as supporting others through their times of grief and loss. “It’s the simple act of kindness, of reaching out to another human being who might be going on a very lonely journey. The challenge is that, when you are going through this kind of trauma, you do feel very isolated and kindness helps to bridge the gap between isolation and engagement or participation for that person”, she added. Our support for people who are grieving could be a foundation that may help them to get through what they are experiencing. Marisa also highlighted the importance of empathy, kindness and connecting with people, especially when they are on a journey of grief or loss.
Want to learn more about this topic, understanding the issue of inclusivity and belonging, self-care and well-being, using personal experiences to create valuable connections, supporting others who may be experiencing trauma at work and creating a culture of belonging? Listen on your favourite podcast platform, and be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss anything!
The post EP4: Leading Through Resilience with The Senior Director, HR Africa at American Tower Corporation, Marisa Daly, appeared first in Rise and Lead Women Forum.
Rise to Leadership Podcast, which was launched on March 8, is a bi-monthly show (weekly in March) that explores topics that matter while sharing stories of inspiring leaders who are creating positive changes.