Today we dispatched the March 2020 edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of of the best leadership links from around the web, sent at the end of each month. This month’s focus is tips for a time of increased complexity, more remote work, and a surge in virtual communication. In these 8 leadership links for uncertain times: how to be productive at home, guiding principles for leading remote teams, why you might be grieving, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you find these links enriching, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.
As the Covid-19 crisis has swept across the globe, many teams are quickly pivoting to remote work and collaboration. People’s lives have been suddenly upended and their routines have drastically changed in new and stressful ways. Many are now managing untold anxiety about a unique threat that requires precautions that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. It’s a lot. But work still needs to get done. At ConantLeadership we’re using these 3 guiding principles to help us put people first, manage complexity, preserve camaraderie, and keep moving forward.
Many are experiencing complicated feelings in response to the pandemic. Among the usual culprits of crisis-induced sensations (like stress and anxiety), one prominent feeling of discomfort might actually be “grief” according to this thoughtful Harvard Business Review Q&A with grief expert David Kessler. He shares, “we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has,” and people are reacting en masse to, “the loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.” Explore his advice for why you should acknowledge grief and how to manage and find meaning in it here.
“The coronavirus pandemic has led most of us to reexamine how we communicate with our family, friends, colleagues and, most importantly for leaders, the public,” writes Samantha Donaldson in this helpful Partnership for Public Service post. To quell fear and ensure effective operations, crisis communications must be delivered in a “timely, consistent manner.” She provides four tips including, “Convey messages with maximum transparency and minimum delay.” Explore all the tips here.
Whether you’re prepared or not, you may find yourself the manager of a newly remote team and it might be different and uncomfortable. But, “rest assured, at this moment, you’re more essential than ever,” says this Fast Company post on managing newly remote employees. To be effective, it’s crucial to focus on “achievable tasks.” Remind teams that, “the power for positive change is available to them,” and they don’t have to fall into a “state of learned helplessness” in the face of circumstances that are out of their control like a pandemic. “Help your team to focus on what they can do with certainty instead of drawing them back to what they don’t know and can’t control.”
When working from home, days can blend together and hours can disappear if you’re not careful. If you’re new to calling your living room your office, there are some practical “Dos and Don’ts” in this 2018 Philadelphia Magazine post. The top tip? “Don’t just roll out of bed . . .Get ready for work just as if you’re working in an office.” Explore all 7 work-from-home tips here.
“There’s nothing good about the coronavirus pandemic, but maybe there can be collateral benefits. For example, it’s already forcing people to use the technology that everybody should have embraced already,” writes Sarah Green Carmichael in this Bloomberg opinion piece. In a passionate plea for remote teams to seize the opportunity for more up-to-date communication platforms and tools, she continues, “the time has come to leap into the future. . . .We can all adopt modern office-collaboration technology” if senior managers now adapt to technologies they’ve previously avoided. Virtual collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, Dropbox, and more are no longer the domain of “early adopters” and chat programs are, “a better way for now-virtual teams to communicate.” Green Carmichael argues bluntly, “Email is not up to this moment.” Whether you agree or not, the article gives modern leaders who are managing remote teams a lot to consider.
We’ve been living in a world that is “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous” —VUCA for short—for quite some time. And now it’s been hyper-charged. Bill George, writing prophetically in Harvard Working Knowledge in 2017, explains “business leaders have entered a new era requiring new ways of leading. Traditional management methods seem no longer sufficient to address the volume of change we are seeing. I label this VUCA 2.0.” He continues, “Business is not running as usual. Leaders must deal with growing uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in their decision-making environments. . . these rapid-fire changes are putting extreme pressure on business leaders to lead in ways not heretofore seen.” To rise to the challenge, leaders must embody 4 characteristics, outlined here.
Doug Conant writes in this article in Chief Executive, “In leadership, there are few things more powerful than letting people know how much you care, and allowing that caring to guide your approach to delivering results.” In times of relative calm and in times of great adversity, “your best chance of setting people up for success, in the here-and-now and in the long-term, is remembering to put people first in all your leadership endeavors.” Read the full piece here.
“The Blueprint is a rare offering with perfect timing.” –
Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School
Doug Conant’s new book, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, is available now.