About 3 weeks ago (wow how long ago does that feel?) we were asked to do a short podcast on 3 key challenges facing leaders during this period of; crisis, pandemic, WFH, lockdown, quarantine – you choose which best describes it for you! We focused on energy, flex and adapt, and emotions and they not only still feel like the ones we’d land on but they actually resonate with even more intensity than before.
So, we’re into at least 9/10 weeks of lockdown (depending on when you started) and it’s the energy/emotional levels that seem to be taking the biggest hit. We’re hearing a lot of our clients (and us too of course) describing ‘hitting an energy wall’ that can be very emotionally distressing. It seems to be characterised by; sudden onset, taking you a bit by surprise ‘I felt fine yesterday’, emotionally draining and intense BUT for most it’s not long lasting…until the next one! People often describe the initial trigger as an overwhelming sense of this ‘just going on and on with nothing to look forward to’, ‘missing family and friends and hugs’ and so we slide down that bio rhythm slope into a bit of self-pity, sorrow, guilt or apathy – again you choose your best descriptor! No right or wrong in any of this uncharted territory. Knowing you will come up again though is so vital to hang onto – but if we’re learning anything in all of this – don’t rush it. As leaders we need to make sure we don’t offer hollow platitudes or false hope but allow our teams and ourselves to just sometimes sit with this for a while. We’re so used to offering solutions, getting stuff done – but as we also know, the how is as important as the doing, now more than ever before. So, let’s really major on;
At Maier we refer in all our leadership and team work to HOT – honesty, openness, trust. Trust comes last, the honesty and openness releases and nurtures it
Empathy with authenticity
This is the time, whatever your own preference, to encourage real empathy with a sharing and expressing of feelings and fears as well as optimism. However good we might be at splitting off the personal from the professional, let’s be honest, WFH is a whole new ball game. The positive is not only seeing into each other’s homes (that’s a whole blog right there!) but also discovering new things about each other’s personalities too. Dig deep for the old emotional intelligence and use it big time.
Be logical and objective re the unknown in all this as well as having confidence in steps you’re taking as an organisation to get on top of it all. Creeping into all this is something we’re calling ‘the September panacea’; ‘when we’re all back in September…we’ll be clearer/able to make that decision/have worked out our new normal’ etc. It’s as if we’re all hooked into a mythical timetable (years of education and term times run deep!) Reality is certainly needed here to avoid making September this magical nirvana in our minds – we could be very disappointed.
Those J’s and P’s again
So interesting hearing two clients (both clear J’s) this week talking about their need for structure to get them through this – way beyond what they would have thought they needed.
‘Before all this I was travelling so much, not really enjoying the projects I was running, eating terribly and generally questioning everything – this time of structure that lockdown and strangely the stability that WFH actually can give has shown me exactly what do I well in…structured plans. I just am a J, that’s how I function best and that will be my way forwards for sure in quite a holistic way too.’
As a P I’d react differently – we’re not saying this is right or wrong – but that bit of increased self-awareness, understanding how you can get the best out of yourself by listening to your own rhythms and needs has to be good.
And finally a bit of humour always lands well (if it’s good of course) – Charlie Brookers Antiviral Wipe ticks the box for us.