Leadership as we know it was put to the ultimate test in 2020. With all of the great information out there in books and the internet to help leaders survive, something was missing. What wasn’t out there was how to manage the gut-punch we all received in 2020 due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. Add in civil unrest, large numbers of unemployed people, small businesses closing, racial tensions, and a highly contested election it feels like we are living in some sort of alter world. Who would have imagined we’d be dealing with all of this in the same year? Then, to boot, hurricanes and tropical storm season decided to throw in enough storms to blow through the alphabet and cause those who name them to resort to the Greek alphabet. All of this has pushed people entirely to the point of “I don’t know how much more I can take” pretty much every day. To add insult to injury, climate change has made the seasons seem unpredictable and in the midst of it, all companies that have survived thus far still have to function.
Even the most seasoned leader is stretched to the very end of their proverbial rope trying to keep operations going while maintaining safety for themselves, their families, employees, and their client base. With PPE supplies and basic home supplies stretched, the 2nd quarter of 2020 really made it feel like we were never going to get to a level place. Manufacturers ramped up production while dealing with their own supplier and staffing concerns to help consumers make it through and we are still behind in some industries. One has to wonder if it was good leadership skills that helped these companies keep producing what consumers need or simply an overabundance of adrenalin from all of the stress the year has brought.
The point is, in this climate leaders must make a significant shift from the way they previously led. Many companies have allowed their teams to work remotely since at least March with no sure date in sight for employees to return to offices. Others have had to find creative ways for employees to co-exist on assembly lines and in retail establishments in the safest manner possible. The culture of today's organizations has evolved into something we barely recognize. With that evolution, leaders must remember they too have to change. Those who expected staff to be in the office constantly watched over have had to deal with changing their management style. This can be quite exacting for leaders who have a hard time with being nimble, flexible, or resilient. Our current world has been tested and tried resulting in a “make it or break it” time in history.
To ensure that you are ready to deal with this virtual shift, you have to be honest with yourself. What skills do you need to be able to provide the tools and culture for your staff to remain successful? Do you currently have a Pandemic life toolbox of sorts to help you get through? How are you using your emotional intelligence to make certain you are self-aware and mindful in your awareness of how others present themselves in the world especially at work? Being superwoman or superman is not going to fly with this much of a shift. Leaders need real help, real solutions, and real views of who they are. They must be clear on what they need, where they are lacking and who can help them jump over this huge valley that is 2020 in an effort to land in a better place in 2021 whether we are still in a pandemic or not. To give your clients your best, your staff has to be their best. For them to be their best leaders must possess the tools to set the example, navigate the complexities and create innovative solutions like never before all while practicing self-care. This is not to be looked at as a weakness. This is the reality that is TODAY! Gone are the days of just being the workaholic, throwing caution to the wind. The energy we use today is different. It has to be allocated differently. We have everything from children at home to reduced incomes and the newness of safety planning for simple things like going to a grocery store. We have employees on video calls while caring for relatives, barking pets in the background vying for attention all while employees and leaders alike still manage the day to day challenges with bills and health.
If you don’t want to be left behind you must shift. If you don’t want to burnout you must shift. If you want to be that resonate leader who shows your people the way and stays afloat, you must shift. If you don’t choose to shift willingly, you can tell by the way things have already gone in 2020 that this current world will shift for you. Take the initiative. Leadership development NOW must be different than before. It has to include personal leadership effectiveness. Be honest with yourself. Remove the mask that says its’ all good and find the resources your need. We are all feeling the stretch; however, to get out of this stretch zone into the growth zone it’s up to you to identify what you need to make your shift happen in the most effective and healthy way possible for all.