The gift of time

It seems a lot of us are pretty keen to bid farewell to 2020 and who can blame us with what turned out to probably be the most ‘annus horribilis’ in living memory.

As our thoughts turn to the new year and all the hopes and aspirations (and yes, those pesky new year resolutions) that usually accompany it – there is naturally also a more tentative and cautious feel around than usual.

In anticipating what 2021 might hold, a default answer for many of the businesses we’re working with is the pragmatic mindset of ‘more of the same – at the very least for the first quarter of the coming year’. Hopes are pinned on a successful vaccine roll-out taking hold, but, whatever happens next these business leaders are also acutely aware that it’s not going to be the same moving forward.

Leaders and teams have adapted and evolved, they’ve responded to the most extreme of circumstances and forged new ways of working as a result. It’s been nothing short of inspirational to see how they’ve grown to fit the shape of things.

We shouldn’t forget the lessons we have all learned, and in our bid to leave 2020 behind let’s make sure we don’t jump headlong into 2021 without taking a moment to reflect on what we want to be different in the year ahead, both personally and professionally.

Reconnecting with ourselves

Much of the talk last year was focused on ‘staying connected’ and the core of the work we’ve been engaged in at Maier has focused on enabling people to do just that. Connecting with friends, family, colleagues (virtually if not yet physically) remains an important practice in maintaining good mental health – as referenced in our own 90 minute digital workshop series Leadership Conversations exploring mental health and wellbeing.

But, we’ve also seen many of our leaders – in their desire to really serve others and deliver on their commitment to support and connect-  in danger of overlooking their own needs. The virtual world has created an ‘access all areas’ climate where we feel obliged to ‘be available’ for others no matter how busy our day.

It’s a common theme in our coaching sessions. So, one healthy resolution for 2021 could be to reconnect with ourselves – rediscover our own rhythms (when we’re most motivated and when we’re least energised) and protect time set aside for specific tasks – including those we often deprioritise such as thinking, reading, planning, reflecting etc.

Look after ourselves as well as others – sounds a bit trite but the near burn out many were feeling as Christmas drew closer felt like a bit of a wake up call for us all.

The gift of time

This insight about reconnecting with ourselves came from one of our last coaching sessions in 2020. How to fit even more into what were already overloaded diaries had been at the heart of the conversation – and that led us to the real question, what can we take out? Added to the now familiar COVID updates and critical responses, leaders are having to manage BAU alongside strategic planning, budgeting etc. Making ‘what to leave out’ a tough, nigh-on impossible question to answer.

The conclusion we arrived at came in two parts. The first being to recognise where we (and/or others) are filling up diary space without due care and attention. For example catch-ups with colleagues, meetings etc. don’t have to be an hour long, they don’t even have to be half an hour long – think quality over quantity.

At Maier there are calls and meeting which we steadfastly value over and above all else. Roadmap reviews and strategic planning all rate highly for us and deserve their space in the diary. As do design calls and debrief sessions. Other activities we either ‘share out or take out’.

We’re still on the learning curve but we’ve realised that if we want to spend more time doing what we should be doing, and what we enjoy doing, somethings simply have to go (or at least move down the list).

Think carefully on where and what you can ‘share out’ as a positive too – trusting and empowering colleagues in new and liberating ways.

The second part is about tapping into the hidden talent within our teams. Throughout 2020 leaders have seen those around them step up and take on the challenges and, what’s more, delivering success. In reviewing how Maier-facilitated events have ‘set a new generation of leaders free’ here’s some of what we’ve seen and heard;

  • Workshops have generated new levels of HOT (honesty, openness and trust), opened up new dialogues and created new networks. Conversations are happening that weren’t before, more easily and with fewer barriers in the way
  • Access to team events and/or workshop sessions have enabled and encouraged managers to take ownership for their own development – it’s given them a new energy
  • The workshops have acted as a stimulus for growth – not just in terms of knowledge around the topics covered but also in confidence and self-belief
  • Learning hasn’t stopped at the end of each event; discussions have continued as people have looked to apply what they’ve taken from the sessions – where it makes a difference to them and where it makes a difference to the business
  • Events have been timely energy boosters too – a chance to ‘take a breath’, share stories and think differently

In gifting others an opportunity to shine, you gift yourself the time to do what it is only you can do and reconnect with yourself as leader.

We don’t always flag up our own work at Maier as often as perhaps we could and should, so, for more information on the workshops and programmes we offer at Maier please do call us  on +44 1603 507236 or get in touch at [email protected].

2020 taught us so much in terms of adapting, flexing and working creatively and sharply –  and we’re hanging onto and building on those lessons to help make 2021 a real gift for us and our clients  – both new and old.

Happy new year from us all.