In the past two months, I have had the opportunity to witness teams facing the most challenging situations they have ever experienced. It is an honor to be working with such remarkable leaders during these times, be they involved with companies, governmental groups, or non-profit organizations.
Daily, I learn how they regularly meet the challenges of this crisis. The teams and their leaders do it with ingenuity, caring, and a focus on problem-solving and learning. While each story is unique, there is a remarkable consistency in how the best leaders and the strongest teams approach the situations they are now facing.
The path to reopening is a subject that is both fraught with emotion and shaded with a multitude of opinions. The teams that meet the challenges seek to embrace and understand those aspects of the crisis and then bring to bear tools that serve them in any circumstance. Read More…
Since March, our world of work has changed more than any of us ever would have imagined. Now organizations are starting to explore a phased return to previous work arrangements. Last week I shared some thoughts on practices leaders should employ to help their teams successfully navigate their return.
But, for teams and organizations to thrive in the long run, leaders will need to embrace new skills and new ways of leading. And, while there are numerous areas you could focus on developing, here are three key capabilities that will help better prepare your team for future disruptions:
Authenticity – A recent literature review on team resilience suggests that team identity is a key enabler of teams that can successfully recover from disruption. Strong team identity requires a leader who engenders trust through authenticity. Authentic leaders are genuinely self-aware and inspire loyalty and trust by consistently being who they really are. And research has shown that authentic leadership is the single biggest predictor of employee satisfaction. As your team slowly returns to more typical ways of working, you have the opportunity to show up in a more authentic way. Practice openness and true humility. Be honest about the challenges and opportunities you are facing as a leader and as an organization. And, create a safe space for your team to do the same. Read More…
When I woke this morning, I laid in bed for a moment realizing the quieter start of our days and thought through the agenda for the hours ahead. I took a moment to figure out what day it was, marveling at the perception of time. Days are flying by, yet it feels like we’re standing still.
I was struck by a thought I had, and that it was the exact same thought I had the day before, and the day before that. It’s a thought that comes to me with such clarity, such simplicity, and urgently. “This is so weird.”
We will be going through our day without leaving the house (except to take another walk around the block ), without interacting with other people (except for our neighbors from an awkward distance across the sidewalk), and without physically connecting with our friends and family outside of our home. Now, more than ever, I am grateful for technology and video conferencing.
I wonder, when will I wake and say, ‘this is normal.’ Or not have any thought or judgment of the day at all. And what I’m learning is that it isn’t without the other experiences that I’m able to truly observe my current reality.
Without a sense of normalcy, I wouldn’t be able to see this current reality as weird. As I reflect on the changes and differences and losses of today, I can see more clearly all the things that I perceived as normal. Read More…
Leaders emerge during times of crisis, formal titles or not. They provide support, strength, and vision for those around them. And they give something else of themselves: vulnerability.
Our presence as leaders is not only about projections or manifestations of strength. It is about being open to the concept of vulnerability – which, paradoxically, in and of itself is a strength.
Is there anyone in the world today who does not feel vulnerable?
In speaking with leaders in recent days, I find that many are struggling with their personal situations (working at home with young children, for instance), as well as their own insecurities and fears. They confess to me that they are reluctant to tell others what they are experiencing, although they realize the emotions they feel are universal. These leaders sometimes conclude that telling others what they are experiencing might be a sign of weakness.
I ask my clients “What do you feel vulnerable about now?” and “How would it serve you and your team by talking about it?” Also, “How can you best establish a connection with your people during this crisis?” Finally, “What do you think your people concerned about?”
What emerges from their answers? That opening up on a personal level is what people need. And a leader who speaks of his or her own challenges opens up the possibilities for others to speak about theirs. That solidifies the connection – that human contact – which is so important to each of us. Read More…
As we face today’s challenges and uncertainties, we are all experiencing emotions and thoughts that we have seldom, if ever, confronted before.
Life indeed throws challenges our way. And those challenges have varying degrees of uncertainty. The end result is a sort of disorientation that, to most of us, can be downright scary. It’s akin to being on a ship in the middle of a stormy sea, or an airplane experiencing severe turbulence. Few of us have been in such situations and therefore cannot know either the duration or the outcomes that might occur. Consequently, we can become lost in our own thoughts and emotions, filled with recurring worry about the future.
And we can feel alone.
These are the times that each of us needs to take a turn being the calm in the center of the storm. And it is not just the leaders in organizations that can and should do it. It is everyone. Read More…
The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 outbreak an official pandemic. Subsequently, the U.S. stock market looks like a more epic roller-coaster than Space Mountain, Americans are making a run on toilet paper, and citizens are beginning to feel the pressure of cancellations of a wide variety of gatherings. While the situation is certainly dynamic and messaging around the situation seems to be constantly evolving, many business owners are coming to grips with a world of work that spans from mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating.
Businesses that rely on in-person customer purchases (restaurants, sports venues, concert halls, etc.) and their employees, many of whom do not have the benefit of being paid when they are not working, seem to be facing what could be a cataclysmic fate made worse by the fact that many large U.S. employers are forcing employees to work from home. Thankfully, my own two companies largely utilize remote work models so my teams are well-versed in working out of their homes. In situations like we face currently, I realize that we are the fortunate ones and that there are some lessons we have become accustomed to that may be of value to those of you who are struggling to adapt to a new, remote way of working together. Read More…