The world has come undone and what leaders could always depend on no longer is a sure thing.
We used to be able to control parts of our professional and personal life in order to create a comfortable routine. We had established daily patterns that we welcomed each weekday and then stepped out of them for our weekends. But with the current chaos in our world, it is so difficult to differentiate between days let alone carving out time for a weekend. I would say to colleagues, “Have a relaxing weekend”. That almost seems ludicrous considering that our weekends are now filled with ways to obtain food deliveries, stay healthy, keep our distance from friends and family. Of course, what many leaders are facing is nothing compared to our healthcare workers fighting a virulent virus, just trying to maintain their health while simultaneously taking care of very sick people.
Four Leadership Strategies For The New Normal
1. Acknowledge What You Are Feeling
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, the topic of loss is shared. Scott Berinato writes that how we are feeling about COVID 19 is similar to grief.
“We turned to David Kessler for ideas on how to do that. Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Kessler shares: Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world. There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed. Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.”
During the COVID 19 crisis lead by acknowledging what you are feeling and share it.
2. Reach Out To Colleagues About Their Feelings
With each call or virtual meeting, it is so important for leaders to first connect on a human level with everyone before proceeding to business matters. The new normal begs leaders to be more compassionate and empathetic. Some questions they might ask to build that connection are:
- - How are you and your family doing? Is everyone healthy?
- - How have you been spending your time when you aren’t working?
- - What new movies or shows have you gotten hooked on?
- - How have you brought physical exercise into your routine?
3. Provide Clear Goals And Direction
At this time of uncertainty, there is nothing more normal than sharing a set of clear strategy and procedures for everyone. Whether you are an individual contributor or leading a team, keep everyone in the loop by rolling out what work direction you are moving. Be specific with your goals and explain why you are taking certain steps. Share any concerns in an organized way and try to offer solutions if possible. Now is the time to be as transparent as possible. Don’t forget to ask colleagues for their input and suggestions.
Leaders need to be extremely clear in setting goals and messaging during this new normal.
4. Share New Ideas And Strategies
With time on our side as we shelter in place, many leaders are registering for webinars and catching up on their reading. They also may be having discussions with former bosses or co-workers. A new normal tip may be to develop a “What’s new out there?” forum for everyone on your team. Some creative ways to establish this may include:
- - Once a month virtual book clubs to discuss new business ideas. Each team member gets a chance to host one and pick the selection.
- - Add an item to the virtual team meeting agenda about new ideas people have learned about. Ask them to explain them to the team. Keep growing.
- - Share what is trending in your field so that when the isolation is over the team will be poised and ready.
What additional leadership strategies are working for you and your team during the new normal?
If you need help to navigate the new normal please let me know. Maybe I can help add a slice of normal to your life.