My business, like many of yours, is coming up on the first full month since we implemented #socialdistancing, #stayhome, and #quarantine policies. It's been a frustrating time for many and a period of difficult adjustments, but as always difficulty and discomfort create opportunities for learning. As Col. Chris Hadfield says,
“Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts.”
In this article please find 3 key learnings I've absorbed during this crisis. Would love to hear your learnings as well.
Trust Over Micromanagement: Working (and managing) from home is a nightmare for micromanagers. They can't easily look over the shoulder of their employees. And the same employees can ignore their incessant requests for engagement and details. Many of them have responded by inundating their reports with meeting requests and pinging them on every available communications channel - which continues to drive their staff mad. This is a fundamental issue of trust. The micromanager usually does so either because they are responding to a micromanager or because they have difficulty believing in people's desire to do what's right and do it right the first time. Instead of micromanaging, working from home is an important opportunity to establish greater trust, to increase the boundaries, and align on virtual ways of working. To the degree that managers can do this, they will ignite greater productivity in their people and this increased engagement will carry over positively once we exit the acute phase of this crisis.
Focus on the Truly Essential: There's nothing like a crisis to snap people into focus and alignment on what truly matters. And for most of us, increasing our closeness with our customers and supporting our customer facing teams has never been more important - to the exclusion of all the whirlwind tasks that usually deliver far less impact for the team and the customer. It's been amazing to see all the nonessential work that we've managed to drop in order to sharpen our execution in the areas that are most crucial. The lesson here being, when things get back to normal, how to maintain this level of commitment to execute against the truly important issues and deprioritize the rest of the busy work for myself and my people. This also translates into key habits that are value adding versus behaviors that diminish focus and productivity.
Prepare for the Next Crisis: The tidal waves of this crisis continue to crash and thrash against the shores of our collective businesses and communities and it's quite challenging to keep our heads above water as each day brings another deluge of difficulty. As important as it is to keep everyone engaged, empowered, and focused on dealing with what comes each day. it is equally important to imagine the phase of getting back to the "new normal", and even more important to take stock of the lessons this crisis has taught about the degree of dispreparedness we all had for an unprescendented event like this. Creating stability and hope are two fundamental components of successful leadership and getting the enterprise ready to weather crises of all magnitudes is a foundational role of leaders in today's VUCA environment. We all should set aside some time to document the key learnings from this crisis, and put in place contingency plans so that we can respond more quickly and assertively the next time we find ourselves confronted by such a situation.
What other lessons have you gleaned in the early days of this crisis? How are you coping with the #stayathome and #socialdistancing norms? Let's discuss in the comments below. And please share with your networks if you found value in this article!
My new book, The Servant Leader's Manifesto is being released this month! Above please find a free preview of the book. Look forward to having your support once the book comes out.