7 minute read
Here we go – trying to get this post finally written and letting go my perfectionistic approach to blogs. They take me forever to write because I keep editing them and thinking of new approaches. For example, I have 5 different blog posts started at this point focused on helping others during these unprecedented times. But, I can’t seem to finish any of them because I keep starting a new one as new ideas come to mind.
So, since we are in unprecedented times, I’m going to be unprecedented in the way I write …and just post. Just write and post. Write and post. Not worrying so much about making sure everything ticks and ties, a clever twist, or etc. I’m going to lean into this topic that I’m writing and be kind to myself, keep no record of wrongs, and be patient with myself.
My hope is that you find at least one nugget in this post or any to follow that can help you or those you lead or those you influence through the days, weeks, months ahead…
The focus for our short time together is Love. And we are going to lean on a historical document written in 57 A.D. that has stood the test of time and still continues to be relevant – and dare I say vital, in times such as now. The author Paul of Tarsus and the document is a letter he wrote to a group of people in Corinth, Greece.
Paul wrote about love – not Eros love, but Agape Love. Unconditional love. Love of mankind. Love of and for others, even if you do not know them.
I firmly and vehemently believe that the most important value for a leader to demonstrate and live out loud right now is the core value of love. Love first and all else will follow.
It may sound like a strange core value in the workplace, but once you know Paul’s definition, you will see quickly that love IS the answer and what your people, your customers, and your vendors need from you as their leader.
I’m going to summarize some of his key points to help us to be able to apply these leadership lessons more easily.
Love is patient, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.
These are unprecedented times. Change is happening and will continue to happen. So many unknowns. You will have people on your teams who will weather this change better and faster than others. There will be questions and fears. People will make mistakes. People could now be operating in unfavorable conditions which can change their preferred behavior and communication styles – be patient. People, including you, will have their emotional intelligence tested – do not easily anger and keep no record of wrongs.
- Go for a walk – even if just 10 minutes
- Be the last person to weigh in – allowing others to be heard first
- Ask questions – seek to understand vs. seeking to be understood
- Extend non-critical deadlines and goals – and do not penalize, even in your memory bank, during review time
Not Easily Angered Tips
- Refresh yourself on your team’s preferred behavior and communication styles – especially in unfavorable conditions – and make adjustments to YOUR style
- Practice empathy – consider all the additional pressures they have going on at home and that people may not be their best selves
Keep No Record of Wrongs Tips:
- If work product suffers or mistakes are made, address them for sure (with empathy) AND then do not hold it against them both at review time or mentally going forward. These are extraordinary times.
- Keep record of rights – keep tags on things that everyone has done well and new ideas. Celebrate those and focus on those for motivation and inspiration.
Love is kind and trusts.
Your people need help – help them. React with a kind heart. Think with a “proactive” kind brain. People have a new normal, we need to allow for kindness in this time of reshuffling. We also need to allow for trust. For those who already had trust in their culture, this will be easier, but you must make a conscious decision to continue it. If you tend to micro-manage, you will have to put huge guardrails on your leadership style – as you will not have as much visibly into people’s workday. Lead with trust. If your culture has had a hard time with trust, it is a perfect time to double down. Use this time to launch a trust initiative – engage your team on how the team can work together and support each other remotely.
- Order what your people need to be successful at home – have it shipped to their homes
- Gift a “crisis” budget for people to own – encourage them to sign-up for webinars they’ve been wanting to watch to sharpen their saw, download a workout app to stay healthy and keep them moving, stock up on some fresh snacks or lunches that they would normally get at the office. If this concerns you, establish expectations first.
- Provide virtual training and/ or coaching to equip them to do their jobs better, but ALSO to live their life better in new rhythm
- Send them and their families something that would surprise them – a board game, fresh flowers, take-out menu & gift card – do something unexpected
- Ask how they are doing and schedule short calls here and there to just check in
- Set expectations of working from home, but allow some wiggle room
- Ask your team to set their own goals and share their hopes for how they want to work
- Openly share your struggles during this time – practice authenticity and vulnerability
Love always protects.
And not just your customers. I’m taking protecting your people and your partners and vendors. On a conference call, I heard a customer of mine only talking about their customers. No mention of their people and no mention of their partners. When I asked, it always came back to nothing was more important than the customer. I respectfully disagree. There is no “either or” here. There is no list of what comes first, however, my people are at the top of mine. All must be protected. If you want to lead through this time of uncertainty and come out of it not just surviving but thriving, you must love all of your stakeholders.
- Email vendors/ partners who make your business possible in the good times. Reach out and see how THEY are doing. Ask how you can help. Reassure them. Help them protect their business.
- Do not become an ambulance chaser – reach out to customers who you truly, authentically think you can help during this crisis. And offer real ways to help (and not all have to be paid). Help them protect their business.
- Schedule sound-boarding calls with different stakeholders for people to share ideas on how all parties can help each other, establish some sense of calm and joint ownership of making sure all parties come out of this crisis “ok” for when the economy returns.
- Give where you can – time, money, ideas – whatever you can do that would help protect people from going under.
- 100% protect your team – what can you being doing now that will make sure they are ok in the long run. Make temporary adjustments for the safety of their future. Reorganize budgets (they will understand) to protect cash flow NOW so you do not have to make drastic cuts in the future.
Love hopes and perseveres.
People are always watching – and especially in times like these. What is your posture about the situation and the future? Hope? Doom? We will emerge even stronger. Time will tell.
Keep in mind: You have to believe it yourself. You have to hope and believe that your team will persevere, or they will see right through you.
Hope & Perseverance Tips:
- Think about, and write down, how you want to be remembered during this time. Put that in front of you at all times and use that as your cornerstone for all of your decisions going forward.
- Delay listening or calls if you are not in the mindset to inspire and still hope – you can be real of course, but there is a difference in leading authentically if you have bad news vs. communicating that bad news alongside of hope and alternative paths.
Love never fails. Ever.