Our focus this month is on Leadership, and how the skills and measures by which leaders are evaluated has shifted from pre to post-COVID-19.
Pre-COVID-19 leaders were measured by their ability to set direction and strategy, oversee activity, resolve issues, and provide support – primarily driven by the What; projects, deliverables, and deadlines. While those deliverables remain essential, they’ve expanded to include the Who; becoming more personnel and personally focused, and less defined. With this in mind, we’re sharing how leadership and employee development has adapted for us over the past few months.
We don’t know what we don’t know, and that’s okay.
Just because I am the leader, doesn’t mean I know what to do next! This global pandemic introduced a lot of firsts, both personally and professionally. How do I keep my business afloat when I can’t connect with my clients? How do I keep my people employed, and if I can’t, how do I help them make it through this time? How do I navigate applying for government loans, working with banks, and creating COVID-19 Return to Work Plans? All this uncertainty led to a few admissions and areas of focus and development for me and my leadership team.
- Accept that I / We don’t know how to fix everything and ask for help.
- Flexibility and adaptability are essential.
- Any communication with my team is better than no communication with my team.
Everyone needs to be up-skilled for soft skills.
Most of us have returned to work, however how and where we work remains a hybrid of physical and virtual. With this, we are realizing that everyone (including myself,) need to be upskilled for soft skills. Individuals used to communicating face-to-face underestimate the tone of their written email communications, and vice versa. We’re all struggling to install, activate and utilize a changing landscape of technology and apps designed to make our lives “easier.” Staying focused and motivated when working alone, all day, all the time, is hard. Without regular engagement with our coworkers, it is more difficult to be empathetic to what they may be going through. These all led to areas of focus and development for teams and individuals.
- We’re all communicating differently these days. A refresh in communication skills — written, verbal, and potentially on-camera — will go a long way in minimizing misunderstandings and maximizing productivity. (I wish my facial expressions didn’t give away what I wasn’t saying aloud!)
- Time management – keeping yourself on task when there isn’t someone hovering over your shoulder takes practice.
- Technology may be your friend, but it is also frustrating! Giving your team the resources to help them install and utilize the latest technology will minimize frustration, enhance connectivity, and potentially start meetings on time.
- Empathy has bubbled to the surface of remote teams – stepping back to understand what everyone is balancing on the work and home front allows other teammates to lean in and help re-balance the load.
Everyone has put their best, and worst foot forward.
We’ve all been on that early morning Zoom call with wet hair, no make-up, and a ginormous foam cup of some caffeinated beverage. In the age of video calls, we’ve sometimes reluctantly invited each other into our personal space – and it isn’t always perfectly put together. But we’ve also seen teammates step up to take the lead when no one knew what to do next, or step way out of their comfort zone and find new ways to do, connect and accomplish. As things return to normal, this presents a great opportunity to re-balance teams and give individuals opportunities to develop skills where they excelled.
So, now what?
While we could have done without the impact to our business, the pandemic experience provides opportunity to take the lead, and ask:
- What did we learn?
- What should we change?
- What would we do differently if something like this happens again?
It also gives us the opportunity to find the positive – we stretched ourselves as individuals and teams, and, we’ve created closer more personal connections with co-workers. Connections and insights that, I believe, will make me a better leader moving forward.
Here is to leading through change, and adapting to what’s next.
Cheryl and Team
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- Consider one of our live instructors, Virtual Classroom soft-skills courses.
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