At the time of writing this blog, we are just about opening up offices in India after about 70+ days of shutdown
Alert: This blog briefly refers to the concept of Death, and if that makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading and move onto to something else, it’s all right and okay to do so.
The COVID crisis is far from over; people around the world have lost loved ones; it has been six months of continued suffering globally.
On the corporate front, companies are likely to continue with remote work in the short and possibly medium-term
Continued remote work would mean:
- Your colleagues and team members may not meet each other in person for a few more months, maybe longer
- It’s mostly likely impacting them
- They don’t fully know how to cope or deal with it
As a leader, you are probably doing some new things for your team members.
You may have got human resources to enable training and development, learning sessions to keep the teams engaged,
Maybe got people together for virtual coffee, cooking conversations, even involved families and children of the employees.
These are good initiatives; however, it may not be enough.
Human beings are social creatures, and virtual work seems to be testing those bonds.
The Silver Lining
I believe the current crisis offers an incredible opportunity for leaders to build deeper connections with their teams,
To get to know them individually, to coach, inspire, motivate and bring out the best in them.
Before we look at seven ways in which your leadership can bring out the best in you and others, I want to bring your awareness to five areas that you need to be mindful of
1. Life is Suffering
Life is suffering said the Buddha and we can witness that when we look deeply into ourselves and those around us
In my nine years of executive coaching work, I am yet to meet a leader who has not suffered, struggled or not faced difficult times.
Likewise, members of your teams are going through things you may not be aware of; It’s affecting them as well as their ability to deliver effectively.
The Mental, physical and emotional health of the employee, is crucial for the well being of the organization,
By being more compassionate, you can offer them support in working with their challenges.
A point to note here is the misconception around compassion; most folks view it as a “soft” trait that doesn’t belong in the corporate lexicon.
Nothing could be further from the truth, where there are people, there is a role for compassion,
Being compassionate in no way reduces your ability to lead them or get things done;
On the contrary, it adds the much-needed human connect to your leadership and makes your teams feel cared.
” Waking up this morning I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours before me. I vow to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion and love”.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The past few months have shown us the extent of kindness and compassion that people have to offer strangers while expecting absolutely nothing in return.
Seeds of kindness, compassion, love, caring, acceptance, mindfulness, forgiveness already exist within us,
We need to water them more often so they can sprout and grow into healthy trees, thereby allowing us to share the fruits and flowers of well being with those in need.
2. People Come First
There is not a single organization that would say people don’t come first. Yet, most allow hierarchy, politics, systems and processes to end up taking a higher priority, thereby ignoring or not attending to the needs of the people
As a leader, you can make a difference, if not for the entire organization, at least for the division or business unit that you lead.
Let the statement ‘People come first’ actually, get translated in demonstrable actions, let it be the outcome rather than just the vision.
3. We are all Dispensable
Impermanence is the nature of life; nothing lasts forever
Our time on this beautiful planet is limited, and Death is our final act
Life can sometimes be short, we have no clue, so it helps to get clear on the right perspective.
No dying person ever regretted not having done or achieved more on the work front.
Start with compassion for self, attend to your well being, offer it to your loved ones, your friends, your teammates and colleagues,
Your leadership can be a storehouse of compassion, and it can be life-changing for a few, inspiring for some and bring in the sense of security for others.
4. Meaning is What We Seek
In my coaching conversations, I often hear clients use metaphors to describe what life is like and what it means to them, for someone its a game, for another a turbulent river,
Some see it as a free bird, endless blue skies, vastness of the universe. In contrast, others think its a mountain to climb, a journey with no clear destination.
Irrespective of the metaphor used, the meaning they attach plays a role in defining their reality.
So this might be a good time for you to explore the meaning you tend to attach to your work and your role as a leader
5. Life is more Significant than Work
Everyone joining the workforce wishes to earn money, grow, be recognized, achieve more, lead, serve and be successful,
However, somewhere along the way, they end up forgetting most of what they truly desire.
Work becomes the be-all and end-all of their identity, sometimes weeks, months, and even years pass by before they awaken to what they are doing and where they wish to go.
As a leader, you have an opportunity to be the role model that would inspire them to live a fuller, more vibrant, purpose-driven life,
To create an experience that’s in harmony with their dreams, aspirations, career plans and goals. To help them develop a holistic perspective while doing meaningful and joyful work.
What can help you attend to all of the above?
1. Start with Yourself
Begin your journey of self-discovery if you have not done it so far, work with a Coach, a mentor or a counsellor, address areas that you want to work on, increase your self-awareness, identify what matters to you, your core values, your goals and desires
Become aware of your assumptions, presumptions and preconceived notions, work to get past rigid beliefs, develop curiosity, openness and a non-judgmental outlook.
Learn to lead yourself well so you can lead others well
2. Get Clear on your Priorities
Next, cut through all the noise and define things that matter most, align your focus to it and give yourself the room to let go of everything else. The battle here is always between what gets your attention and that which truly matters.
If you don’t have well being of your people in your top three priorities, you may want to spend more time getting clear,
Nothing can get done if your people are not feeling at their best or aligned.
3.Develop a Personal Vision
Vision has power, its inspiring, motivating and will get you started; it will bring to life the dreams and aspirations you may not have voiced or may have suppressed for lack of clarity, courage or confidence
While at it, remember to develop it for your life, not just for work
Your vision will impact your teams too, so prepare it keeping in mind the broader set of people you will eventually influence
4.Communicate with Clarity
Articulate your vision with your teams, make them aware of the code you wish to live by, the set of values that guide you, how it will benefit them, the organization and you
From this place of clarity, you can look for shared values and learn to honour them for each other, let the heart lead this conversation; vulnerability is the path to courage.
5. Understand your Teams
Just like you, your team members have dreams, aspirations, doubts, fears and limiting beliefs, Make time to listen to them, understand what they want, need and expect of you and the organization
Identify what’s coming in their way, what frustrates, pulls them down and address it.
Also, pay attention to what’s important to them because it drives their behaviours, You can coach them towards higher self-awareness and clarity.
Think of these conversations as investments in high-value assets with the potential to deliver multifold returns
6. Manage your Energy
Your mental, emotional, physical energies radiate and impact the moods of those around you, learn to become aware and manage them better, practice expressing things that bother you, work through your frustrations
Attend to your well being, exercise regularly, spend time in quiet reflection, learn mindfulness practices, ensure you get adequate rest/sleep.
Your levels of energy and enthusiasm are crucial in keeping your teams motivated and inspired.
“Sleep is the best meditation”
~ The Dalai Lama
7. Draw up an Action Plan
The grandest of projects don’t see the light of day without a clear action plan
Please start with the vision, break it down into specific goals, milestones and action steps, ask for help, engage a coach, seek a mentor, give this the importance it deserves!
Be the leader who adapts to the changing times and continues to inspire, motivate, support, serve and bring out the best in people while they cope with the new normal.
May compassion feature in your leadership legacy!
Points to Ponder
- Where can you be more compassionate?
- What about your leadership has changed in the past six months?
- How do you intend to amplify your current levels of energy?
p.s. For a list of leadership books recommended by me, click here.