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Leading Amidst Hardship – Four Discoveries

As I sit here in week two of this seemingly endless pandemic, I want to share some additional thoughts on leading in this virtual reality.

1) Take Breaks

Do any of you feel that because you are in this virtual environment you are working harder than you ever have? I noticed that last week was so packed with back to back meetings starting at 7:30 AM and ending at 7:00 PM, and I literally had only one half-hour break through it all. I felt like a drowned rat. Note to self for week two – it is critical to take breaks and to build them into our days. Leading individuals, teams, and ourselves through crisis takes a lot of emotional energy and output, and we must refuel ourselves so we can be the rock for others. I am committed to planning time for breaks in the weeks ahead, and encourage each of you to discipline yourself to take time to be outside and to step away from your desks or computers – it will serve your soul.

2) Stay Informed and Rise Above

In most of my meetings, I am hearing people share that they are watching the news nonstop and letting it play as background music. I have observed a correlation between those who share this, and the energy they bring to our calls. While it is important to continue following the protocols set by our state and local governments, immersing yourself in the news can have a negative effect. Yes, we are in a crisis AND we have an opportunity to operate above the fray. These are unprecedented times and we get to choose (and remember, it is a choice) the thoughts we think and the actions we take to preserve our optimism. I encourage you to challenge yourself to do that and to know that it is possible.

3) Over-Communicate 

It is critical to share updates on how we are doing and to bring the whole team together, even for just a brief chat. It is equally critical for leaders to listen to their staff and to create what we call a “designed alliance” around what is working, what is not working, and what each person needs more of or less of to get through this time. Some people are thriving from home and others are struggling, and we need to know all of this so we can support our people in making this a more connected and productive time. Connection is especially important for people living alone, for extroverts, for introverts, and all the -verts. Creating the space for honesty is the first step. Zoom meetings help to provide a space for people to share how they are feeling without blame or shame and to simply be present and in the company of their teammates.

4) Embrace Vulnerability

Layoffs are happening at an unprecedented rate and we have not been immune. Leaning in is what is required here, as is being raw and real. It is so important that our “how” is done with love and kindness. Everyone understands the crisis we are in, but it is crucial to take the time to do this right. While none of this is personal, we are all human beings and we are all feeling it personally. It is essential to embrace all the emotions that are stirred up, allowing them to be in the space and to be present to each emotion. I will share more as I move through this uncharted territory.

I will also be leading a Zoom Session next week for other business leaders called Leading Through Crisis with a Focused and Present Mindset. More details on this to come.

I am here to support you and to help you tap into your courage to have real conversations so we can all transcend this pain to imagine a future to live into today.

With gratitude,

Kip Hollister