With the Covid pandemic in place since mid-March here on the East Coast of the US I know that I was living in a day by day mode. I was looking at things in a very short term way and not focusing on the future because it was too hard. Being in the present, while scary and very different than how I used to live, was a survival mechanism. Now, however, even though the Shelter in Place has gotten extended here in Washington DC until June 8 I am planning for the future.
As leaders while we have to look at the short term tactical to get things done, we also have to be planning for the future, shaping the vision, and bringing people along with you. Innovation and creativity may be sprouting right now as planning for the future is requiring new ways of operating. Some of the current ways of operating such as working from home sometimes may become a part of the future, getting comfortable with more and more use of technology will continue, as perhaps might the strengthened relationships coming out of this time together.
But what will be needed for the future? How can you get innovative now on who your new customer base may be, what their needs may become, and what will be important to them? While none of have all of the answers many of us are now attempting to get educated on the new possible ways to look at the world. Stay intellectually curious. Get out (virtually) and talk to different people in your network to get different perspectives. Listen to Ted Talks and read the news (in moderation so don't get too down) but find ways to open up your curiosity muscle, get new perspectives, new inputs, and talk to different people. By doing so you can begin to see new patterns, new thought processes, as well as new data emerging. That can lead to the next innovation, the next brilliant idea, or the next collaboration.
How can you broaden your scope? What new things can you learn about today? What can you get curious about which can help you think through what to do, be, or create in the future?
With the end in sight for many of us of Shelter in Place and a return to moving again in the world, although in a very limited way, it feels like life is moving forward again. With leaders right now they are working towards what a new normal will look like, planning for the transition, but also still working through this neutral zone.
What are you hoping to return to? What does the new normal look like for you? I know for me as a leadership coach and trainer in-person training had come to a standstill. All were cancelled from the middle of March through at least the end of May with many postponing or cancelling all together. Coaching work was sustainable because most of it was virtual anyways, but in the meantime we got re-tooled onto virtual platforms and I finally conducted a three day virtual training class last week. And now clients are tiptoeing back asking for virtual delivery of training.
While this neutral zone caused a lot of fear and anxiety, planning for the future was beneficial. Getting retrained and retooled was helpful and being ready when clients returned was also essential. What can you be doing right now to prepare for the return to movement? What do you need to put into place to remain healthy while going back in some ways to bits of your life pre-Covid?
Planning is going to be essential so that when things do start moving you are ready to move forward. What actions do you need to begin to take today?
Thriving? I know that sounds immature or naive or lacking in deep understanding of the world right now during Covid-19, but in truth even during a pandemic we can thrive. Emotionally, spiritually, physically we can thrive, but now also trusting that even the current situation can ultimately be good for our growth and development.
While we are suffering perhaps in not being in physical proximity to those who we love, having health issues or fearful of our financial future, there are many wonderful things coming out of this pandemic, which we may never have paid attention to otherwise.
As we have entered the sixth week of working and being at home during Covid-19 I have heard many people realizing that they do not have as much control on life, events, and/or situations that they thought they did. Leadership is often the same way. We can have the best laid vision, strategy, and plan, but sometimes outside forces take over like this pandemic did our lives.
So what can we learn from this situation?
During a time of change, especially like the Covid-19 Pandemic, people will go through the five stages of grief. Based off of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' work, the five stages of grief also relate to any change process that we go through. The five stages are:
Leadership is critical during crisis moments. People look up to their leaders and watch to see how they are going to guide things during tough times as well as to model the behavior of how they should be "being" during in a crisis situation. As leaders we may not have all of the right answers nor always feel emotionally stable during a pandemic either. At these times we might need some support in being able to manage and process our own emotional state and/or some tools to be able to manage most effectively right now and leadership coaching or training can be helpful during these times.
In virtual training sessions and/or coaching a leader can gain some skills or support on the following topics: managing through change, leading a virtual team, remaining resilient during crisis times, learning mindfulness practices to manage stress, and building emotional intelligence skills to manage your own emotional state and interact with others in the best way possible. If you are looking for support please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we all get adjusted to a protracted season of working from home, leading virtually, and staying healthy, leadership really matters. During these times of crisis what you do right now makes a difference. Your teams, your organizations, and your families will remember how you acted during these times and they will think about it for a long time to come.
So how can you be the leader you want to be? Here are some tips to get you started:
As the those of us in the US adjust to our first week or so social distancing and staying from home some new ways of operating are emerging. As we slow down and don't run around so much, I see that people are connecting more, finding creative ways to do that and emerging a little bit more vulnerable. As we share in this collective panic we see that we are all human, all want to love and be loved, all want to contribute to others/to the world, and all need to be with others, but in this day and age prior to COVID we might have forgotten that in the rush to succeed, to prosper, to achieve, especially in the US. I see some ways that things have changed already and am wondering if you think these things will remain when this is all through:
During these tumultuous times in the United States and around the world, social distancing is becoming the new way of operating. To stay safe and not contract and/or spread the coronavirus more and more people are working from home. As a result people can feel socially disconnected and/or start feeling down. How can we keep engaged and keep our spirits up during these times?
As new things finally come into view deepening your happiness level, your energy levels, and your vision become just as important as allowing the change to occur. For when change happens resistance and/or hesitation could come up for healthy change (even good changes) will bring up feelings of loss and/or grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief often come up in a change process as you feel a loss of the old - old ways of being, acting, doing in the world or in your organization and this can be hard. But with change there also comes possibilities, opportunities, wisdom, and evolution.
Put in the effort to keep grounding yourself during these times of change. Ask for support from those close to you. Invest time in self-care such as physical exercise, meditation, walks in nature, music, etc to keep yourself grounded. Let yourself feel the resistance and ask any questions or get clarification that you need. As you let yourself feel the feelings and surround yourself with support you can move through the change that you have been seeking for some time and truly flow into the next phase of things.
How can you ground yourself at these times?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.