COV19 Tips: Be Caring, Observant, and Vulnerable

situational-leadership

This has been a crazy week. I think everyone’s work and home life has been infected with COV 19 planning and discussions. This is when it is hardest to be a leader – when things are unsettled, uncertain, and constantly shifting. It is also when our teams need us most. We need to balance business continuity, customer delivery, and employee needs on a daily if not hourly basis. In times like this I always go back to one of my favorite change mantras: move your energy out of what you can’t control and focus on what you can control and influence. And while this week has been long, hard, and frustrating there is still a lot we can control. Here are 19 tips to help us focus on being Caring, Observant, and Vulnerable to help your team navigate the COV crisis.

Be Infectious with CARE through:

(1) Your words. Your words have a megaphone in times of stress. So what you say and how you say it matters a lot. It’s ok to be stressed -it’s not ok to take it out on your team.

(2) Your flexibility. With school and daycare options in flux for families, how can you be flexible with work hours, deadlines, and/or assignments? Working from home does mean working -and people will work harder and more effectively if you help them with options.

(3) Your kindness.  The wise words of Maya Angelou were never more true than at times like this: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  Let people know that you care about them as people not just associates.

(4) Your trust. Your team may all be working offsite, even offline. How will you manage their productivity? By assuming they are all doing the right thing and treating them as such. Giving and showing trust pays dividends and builds loyalty.

(5) Your time. The most strategic leaders spend 80% their time on and with people. Now that people can’t grab you in the hallway for a quick question or drop in to show you their project, can you have online office hours?  Can you extend your 1:1s to allow time for those extra questions and high touch time?

(6) Your selfcare. We all know the airplane tip put on your own oxygen mask first. This is hard stuff. Be sure you are getting the sleep, exercise, nutrition and balance you need to be there to support your team.

OBSERVE the Health of Your Team By:

Listening. We all handle stress differently. You can hear what’s on their minds by what your team asks. You can learn more by asking them follow up questions.  You can help lighten the worry burden just by listening.

Checking non verbals. It’s a lot harder to pick up on non verbals online. Yet if you tune in you can observe the pauses, the eyebrow raises, the wide eyes. Again stop and check in – help them to articulate those non verbals into words and recommendations.

Seeing Waste. One of the few upsides of this current climate is we have to be focused. What are we not going to do — and is there are reason we ever did it? What can you delegate or delete to help you be focused on that’s really important?

Doubling Recognition. Who on your team is stepping up without being asked? Who took the step of learning a new technology tool to make a remote meeting smoother? Every day you are out of the office, make sure the team know you see their actions and appreciate them.

Being Openminded.  Most associates today want more flexibility. What can you learn from a required work from home that could become how we work? What meetings/projects worked when you delegated them? Allow this to be a pilot for you and your team to reimagine how you work effectively together.

Checking Attitudes. COV19 is dangerous if you have cancer- and I mean a cancer on the team. What you permit you promote, so don’t permit negativity or a lack of engagement.

Let COV19 Make You VULERABLE to 

Honesty. Things are changing at in every sphere quickly, and often in an uncoordinated way.  Being honest about what you know now and hope to know soon is healthy for you and your team.

Fear. What happens if we lose a customer account? What if our suppliers can’t meet our deadlines? These are reasonable fears- and sharing them with your team allows them to help you think of new ideas and responses.

Imperfection. It is unlikely everything will go smoothly over the next few weeks. Embrace it. Talk about it with your team. Show that you can pivot, learn, and ask for their help in doing so.

Failing. A ball will drop. It’s just going to happen with this much change. So name it when it happens. Own it. Talk about what you learned and ask what the team would recommend you do differently next time.

New Perspectives. Challenge yourself to use fresh eyes in this new way of working to ask what’s going well? What needs more focus? Where should you spend more of your attention? Invite feedback from customers, stakeholders and teams to help widen your perspective.

Development. What one thing can you commit to learning while you are working at home. Is it being more focused in 1:1s?  Is it being present during meetings? Is it taking 15 minutes a day to read/listen to a new blog/Ted Talk/audiobook?

Your shadow. How you show up now matters. A lot. Leverage your strengthens to cast light on the team.  Reflect on your blind spots and focus on them. Challenge yourself on your development areas and ask the team to help hold you accountable.

COV19 is a respiratory illness. To combat the mental and emotional challenges your business are facing you need to breathe deeply. We need our teams to feel closely connected during social distancing. And we cant afford to quarantine leadership. Let’s all double down on caring, observing, and vulnerability as antibodies we want to spread regularly.

 

Do Less More Often

Do less More

It may be early to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions but as 2017 is winding down, I find myself reflecting on the number of lessons I learned this year. 2017 was a quite year for me. I was laid off from a great job working for a great boss, John Vegas. I also got a great opportunity to shift from designing learning and development content to delivering change management training across the country. I sat on the other side of the “here is your package” table and got to feel firsthand what good and bad acquisition practices look like. I learned to introduce myself as “in transition” at networking events, and to get comfortable with not having a work identity. I gave myself the best gift of all – taking the summer off to spend time with my family, seeing every concert that we could, and taking some fantastic vacations. So what’s my big hairy goal for 2018? I am planning to do less more often. This means embracing JOMO, canceling subscriptions, and better balancing .

Embracing JOMO. I just read this article about embracing the joy of missing out (JOMO). Instead of stressing out that you can’t get it all done or can’t get to both meetings you were invited to, try a new approach. Admit that there is a problem, and acknowledge that the problem is not you. You can’t do it all and that’s ok. So embrace it. Find joy in training someone else to help with your projects. See the joy in your team when you say, I trust you. You can cover this meeting and fill me in. This mindset can allow you to focus on what really matters and do a few things really well, instead of spreading yourself too thin. This will be a challenge for my extroverted, execution-oriented personality but I am convinced it will help me to stay focused and to be more productive.

Cancelling subscriptions.  I volunteered to co-lead my daughter’s brownie troop when she was in first grade. It appears to have an auto-renewal policy until she graduates. I started a list of all the things I find myself still doing just because I started doing them, and am starting to cancel my subscriptions to these commitments. That means prioritizing my networking groups and cancelling some subscriptions so I can focus on others. It means asking myself if there is a different way for me to subscribe my time at work so I can stay focused on my top priorities. It even means stepping down as the troop leader so I can decide if there is a new subscription my daughter and I want to explore.

Better Balancing. Doing less still allows for doing. I also want to increase my workout goals and to read more next year. I want to work on our learning strategy and be available to create on demand training for leaders.  My goal is to have clear priorities and commit to my priorities. Investing time in my family, my health, and my hobbies are my priorities for next year. So now they will be my filter for making decisions. Stephen Covey has a great quote: “Instead of prioritizing our schedule we need to schedule our priorities.” I am learning that one of the priorities I need to include on that list is white space. White space for thinking and planning at work and for unwinding at home is one of the best commitments of time we can make. Finding the balance of doing and being is my biggest challenge- and one I will prioritize working on in 2018.

I read the book Essentialism in 2016 and it really struck a cord with me. In this crazy world of doing, how can we do less more often? 2017 gave me an opportunity to put those ideas into practice and taught me some invaluable life lessons. I have moved through transition into a new great job, with a great boss, doing some great work. But instead of jumping back on the hamster wheel, this time I am being more intentional about embracing JOMO, cancelling subscriptions, and better balancing.

The 3 Rs: Reading, Running, and Relaxing

Setting-Goals

It’s that time of year again. Red leaves. Orange pumpkin spice latte. Yellow school buses. All signs of fall and the return to school. Every year I feel both jealous of and motivated by these students. While most of us can’t lobby our workplaces for the summer off, we too can take this opportunity to focus on learning, committing to goals, and trying new routines.  I firmly believe that to be your best self at work you have to take time for yourself, and that setting up personal routines can help your professional productivity. I encourage you to explore the 3Rs this season: reading, running, and relaxing.

Reading. How do you stay current on your industry? On your competitors? On leadership? These “important but not urgent” questions often get buried under our emails and meetings. So here’s your chance to push reset and find some time for yourself. Drive time is a great time to listen to an audio book. Pop in some earbuds and listen to one while walking, cleaning, or at lunch. Here’s another idea- spend 20 minutes less on email and instead devote that time to learning. In an earlier post Refresh Your Training Menu, I cited LinkedIn and Flipboard as great sources for blogs and Get Abstracts as a site that synthesizes business and leadership books in to 3-5 page summaries. That 20 minute investment can pay big dividends in your career and is a great habit to try on this season.

Running. Or Walking, biking, dancing– any kind of heart pumping moving. As this Harvard Business Review article states, regular exercise is a part of your job, if in your job you are expected to concentrate, remember information, and be creative. There is a direct link between exercise and work performance – and we all want to be great at our job, right? Start with 30 minutes three times a week. Determine if morning, lunch, or evenings works best for your schedule and your body.  Set a goal. Then post that goal so your friends and family will ask about your progress. The alternative is to commit to processing information slowly, forgetting details, and staying stagnant. So don’t look at exercise as taking away from your job – see it as part of your job.

Relaxing. This is a habit I am still working on. I am the yoga student who starts planning her grocery list mid downward dog, and whose mind constantly wanders during meditation. But I know the importance of stillness and aspire to move from mind full to mindful. The app Buddhify really appeals to me- it has a collection of short meditation and many of them are designed to do while you are doing something else- brilliant! I also like the Do Yoga With Me website that offers free yoga lessons at all levels and multiple lengths. Another recent challenge in our house? Shutting off our phone after 8:00– and instead linking in with the faces in the room vs. on the web. Find that space where you can reconnect with yourself and what really matters to you. It will lower your blood pressure and help you center.

As CS Lewis said, we are never to old to set another goal or dream another dream.  We are all busy, but just one less TV show, meeting, or Words with Friends fest will pay huge results. This fall, lets all be students of the 3Rs and commit to reading, running and relaxing.