The Leader Who Thrives: At the Beginning I was okay, Now I’m tired!
After a day in the home office, I was heading out the door for my most favourite recreation of recent months – going to the Coop Commercial Center. Incredibly enthusiastic about these regular trips, I have changed my shopping habits from bulk buying to purchasing smaller quantities, thus necessitating that I go out several times a week. When growing up, my mom often laughed with my dad about how whenever they went out, they would always need to stop at the grocery store. I have become my parents. I digress, but it gives you a wee bit of insight of how common things add meaning to your life during uncommon times.
Which takes me to my point. I am an aficionada of various outlets of information and trending opinion. A particular site sent me a notification headlined with “My manager used to be okay with my working from home. Now he’s not!” My curiosity shot through the roof, and voilà, here we are.
At the height of my career when I moved nearly every two years to magnificently isolated places in the United States, I once told my family, “Give me a sofa, a TV and remote control and a place to buy food and I can be happy anywhere.” Note, the nuances of choice and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that I would one day be able to be more choiceful about where and when I moved.
Humans are awesomely resilient and adaptive. Many, many people find themselves in deplorable conditions. Sometimes, those conditions are consequences of their own actions, while other conditions are not. In any case, humans seem to be good at figuring out a way to get around, up and over, or under and out of circumstances. They invent, they cope, and often they find other miserable people with whom to share their pain.
It is a year, and we are still social distancing, mask wearing, and greeting each other with elbows. During this time, most or all our teams and colleagues are working from home. Possibly, we had a couple of months of face-to-face time but most likely that was not with the entire team at the same time.
When we started, we were sure that we would get through the worst of the situation and by the start of 2021, we would return to ‘normal’. What may have been an exhilarating challenge that called us to be more creative and nimbler has now become a nuisance. We may feel weary or irritated. Having to adjust schedules and make allowances for employees, new work arrangements, interruptions, or delays push us to the edge. What makes it worse is we are not seeing that we have any choice nor are we feeling any sense of when things will change.
I believe the old paradigm of presence in an office has shifted for good. Home office subsidies may be more cost efficient than having an office building and performance exceeds expectations. Setting our sights on what we used to know sets us up for failure. Thus, the question you might want to answer is how you can reintroduce choice and vision for what is next that can help you and those you lead to thrive. I offer the following three points.
- Share leadership. Where is it written that delegation is off-loading only routine activities to free yourself for more strategic, big impact tactics? Rethink the roles that next tier talents can play in achieving high stakes items. Make it a personal leadership objective to appreciate the unique competencies of your team members and look for ways to give them real leadership experience and extend your trusted expertise to them.
- Give the liberating feel of choice. Vacations and holidays are part of the ‘standard’ benefits framework in most organisations. Perhaps something other than the standard can generate the feel of choice. Poll for things that inspire your team to do its best, individually or as a group, and regularly give them the choice to lead and implement something from the list. Concerned about alignment to policy and strategy?
- Keep the vision and its link to work outcomes clear. The better the mission is crystallised as quantitative and qualitative outcomes, the easier it is to ask the question how any activity contributes to the desired results. A singular vision as to what is important is an essential element of equilibrium during unpredictable change. This not only keeps everyone focused on the right things, but it also teaches the next generation leaders critical thinking and reinforces their ability to personally lead their own efforts when ambiguity surrounds them.
You may have noted that I did not give you pointers for personal resilience. There is a reason I did not. It is not because leaders who thrive are not in need of support and nurture during difficult spells. It is not because these same leaders already know the ins and outs.
Rather it is because there is great benefit in action. Action empowers. Action awakens ideas, concepts, and insights that propel us forward. A leader who thrives frequently finds renewal and energy in action and intrinsically appreciates seeing others succeed. Redirecting inward focus to the outward success of another can be a remedy. Create choices every day. You will likely look back at this time and wish some of these interesting and unique situations had never ended!
Take care and we will chat again soon!
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
– Vince Lombardi –