Source: Lisa Walsh
On a Zoom call this week, the participants were talking about how to best support our members as the weeks wear on and we and our families try to remain healthy and productive at home. As we bantered about the topic of what seemed like the thousandth webinar, one participant spoke up and said “I’m tired of living in fear. My members and I want to use this time to help our business emerge stronger than ever. I have 40 families depending on that.”
If you and your team have four, 40 or 40,000 families who are depending on your ability to lead right now, I offer three observations of what appears to be working in this time of change.
- Commit to a solution-oriented mindset.
My work with executive teams during this crisis has revealed three types of attitudes: 1) those who are desperately trying to control things we no longer control, perhaps by sharpening pencils and updating financial statements, 2) those who recognized immediately that we are in the midst of one of the greatest opportunities to truly lead that we are likely to experience in our lifetimes, and 3) everybody else.
As leaders, I offer the possibility that if we can break out of living in fear and instead live in the solution, we have the opportunity to redefine our businesses in a way only offered in times of great change.
Of course, good fiscal management is always important, especially now as many companies work to survive. However, if we are only looking down into our spreadsheets, we are not looking up – meaning we are likely to miss the opportunity to lead in a way that’s inviting, inspiring and motivating to those people whose families depend on it.
- Respect the trust that’s offered by ‘collective vulnerability.’
Bree Brown refers to the pandemic experience as “a massive experiment in collective vulnerability.”
Our daily defenses are down, and many of us are open to new ideas and new ways of doing business. Let’s respect that way of being as the gift that it is, and invite our executive teams, front-line managers and field employees into a conversation that solicits creative new ideas of how to do business moving forward.
If you are a leader, what might this look like? Two observations:
- Make yourself more available than ever before. This means continuing to offer or implement an open-door policy. The best example I’ve heard of this was a CEO who created his own “virtual office” using Zoom. As busy as he is (he leads a large healthcare facility), he spent three hours in his office by himself one morning last week, inviting any and every person who worked in his organization to pop into his virtual workspace. He wanted to know how they and their families were faring, what challenges he could help them solve and any ideas they had for ways to better serve those who depend on their care. This leader had an open-door policy before the pandemic; continuing that in a virtual world not only reinforced his commitment and inspired those he leads, but generated some great ideas for him on how to be of even greater service.
- Webinars are terrific and so many great ones were offered at the start of the pandemic on how to work remotely, how to stay connected, etc. But as critical information continues to change daily, even hourly, we need the ability to access real-time information. The best way I’ve experienced this is via video calls. They can be put together and advertised quickly, attract those most interested in the topic, provide current, actionable information and are a perfect platform to identify and share best practices. And no one cares if you’re wearing a baseball hat or show up in your workout clothes.
- Freely share the resources you’ve found that help us build stronger businesses.
So much great information exists now, in real time, and it is incumbent upon us to share non-confidential business information with our colleagues as best we can. I offer two examples of resources that have been freely shared to our collective benefit, and I encourage you to share others:
- Numerous webinars, video calls and landing pages have been created and made readily available to help business owners understand and navigate the SBA disaster loan assistance program. I could never have done this efficiently on my own and am grateful to those who took the time to explain the opportunities provided by these vehicles in a way I could quickly understand and utilize.
- One of the best freely available sources of information to help teams during this time is offered by Pat Lencioni of The Table Group. If you are leading a team, building a team or a member of a team (just about everyone), take a look at their complementary resources. I have used them recently with clients and directed others to the website. These free resources can be used to quickly understand how your team is currently operating and how best to move forward to build organizational health.
I cannot end this article before thanking the first responders who have been on the front lines as this crisis has rolled through our lives. Thank you – by helping to keep us safe, you created the space for business owners to care for their families and contemplate and execute new ways to build stronger, more innovative and connected work places.