Our world is topsy turvy and that can lead to unbalanced work lives and wobbly career trajectories. What once made sense for leadership success no longer applies. We used to be able to work hard in our jobs, build skills, attain knowledge and then grow our work lives. But with remote work remaining strong and interactions with our bosses and colleagues mostly virtual, the rules of the work world have been greatly altered. The tools in our leadership toolboxes are undergoing a shift and we need to stay on top of these changes in order to remain poised for leadership success.
Working from home offices in the middle of our personal worlds has created both challenges as well as opportunities. Where once leaders had to build in commuting time to their offices, they now can spend that time with their families. In the past leaders could leave their hectic team schedules behind and focus on their home life once they left their workplaces. Now there can be a blending of our personal and professional lives, with undetectable boundaries.
So what can leaders do to ensure they are still propelling forward?
Here are six critical skills to help leaders move forward:
1. Look At The Current Work Situation With A New Lens
Many leaders I speak with lately have just had enough isolation and remote working for a while. Although they enjoy the perks of a home office, they are craving a need to collaborate in person with colleagues. They miss the small conversations sharing personal challenges. When we are in a difficult situation as we are now try looking with a new lens:
- Acknowledge that you may be feeling frustrated and then commit to pivot.
- Try rearranging your daily routine so it fits into your current remote work life.
- Build in breathing time to switch between project work, emails and virtual calls.
- Be grateful at the end of each day that you are able to continue your work in a meaningful way remotely.
2. Become A Self-Aware Leader
Although self-awareness has always been an essential leadership skill, it is even more critical today. That is because when we connect in virtual ways it is more difficult to read other people’s emotions as well as keep ours in check. When leaders approach their virtual meetings it is important to leave behind their home challenges. Be aware if your dog or family members pop into the screen seen by your team members. Make sure to reflect accurately on how co-workers or bosses are feeling. Ask them how they are doing. Be aware how you appear to others.
3. Brush-Up On Clear Communication Skills
Lean into the way you communicate during virtual calls, in emails as well as on the phone. Does it seem that others are understanding what you are saying? Are you being heard clearly? Does there seem to be an even exchange of dialogue or are you doing all the talking? Clear communication involves:
- More listening than speaking.
- Focusing on the person sharing the information. It is never a good idea to be doing something else while on a virtual call. Keep your video on.
- Be thoughtful in how you share your ideas, choosing precise words, appropriate facial expressions and not speeding through.
4. Create A Strategic Career Plan
How will you know you have arrived somewhere if you don’t know where you are headed? Many leaders probably have goals they want to achieve in their jobs but how many have a career plan? Where do you want to be after we return to a more typical work world? Now is the time to map out what you want your career to look like and how you will prepare.
5. Network With Everyone and Anyone
No leader wants to wake up after this crazy time and not have a strong network. The world will look different. Your team will probably contain new members. Your organization will have moved leaders around. To keep up with the people changes:
- Be purposeful in connecting with new team members. Ask them to a virtual coffee.
- Keep up with professional groups and join in on virtual meetings. Then contact someone interesting.
- Keep a log of all the new people you are meeting and calendar-in follow-up times.
6. Try Out Patience In A Big Way
The best served skill at this time is learning to be patient. Projects may take more time and deadlines may be moved up. It’s OK. Colleagues may not get back to you as quickly as you hope. It’s OK. Mistakes may occur, sometimes without realizing. It’s OK. You may feel fatigued or overwhelmed at times and need to catch your breath. It’s OK.
Patience is what is needed.
What other skills will help you move forward after this difficult year? If you need some help pivoting just click here.
Related: How Will You Lead in 2021?