by Andre Young
NOTE: This is the first in an ongoing series of posts from Andre that will provide timely tips for developing your unique leadership style.
I know… it sounds weird to even mutter the words, keep the effects of a global pandemic going. So many people lost their lives, families lost family members, and the world changed forever. This is not to minimize the pain, loss, and suffering of so many; rather an opportunity to live in the positives and manage the negatives… my life motto! COVID-19 had its negatives, however there’s one huge professional positive that’s too big to ignore and I implore organizations, leaders, employees, and teams to maintain as we power forward. So, what is it and how do we do it?
COVID forced the professional world into mandatory remote work… a concept shunned by most leaders prior to the pandemic. That remote work made everyone familiar with Zoom, Google Meet, or whatever platform you use. This remote work forced us to get human-to-human like never before… and this is the COVID-Effect! For the first time, employers and employees were going through the same thing, at the same time, and working to figure it out at the same pace… Wow!
Virtual meetings forced us to exhibit and enhance our personal leadership… how we show up to your life, our work, and relationships by doing a few simple things I often share in my Leadership Trainings; keeping your head up, eyes, up and smiling! Once you’re on that virtual call, it’s hard to be inattentive, not have your eyes on who’s speaking, and smiling… as opposed to walking through the office head down and buried in your phone or on your computer, attempting to avoid someone or everyone, and smiling your least.
I once worked at a company and to this day could not pick the CEO out of a line-up. However, I may be able to pick the top of her head out of a line-up; as she walked past me daily with her head down in her phone, no eye-contact, and no hello. Be sure this is not you as a leader… you’d be surprised how much more people will do with you, for you, because of you, and forgive about your mistakes as a leader when they feel more connected to you and the vision!
Virtual meetings also let leaders and employees into each other’s personal lives like never before. In the past, the only way to know the work/life harmony aspect of an employee’s, boss’s, or co-worker’s life was by seeing the pictures of their family in their office or at the annual company holiday party they invited their spouse to. The COVID-Effect brought leaders and employees into each other’s living room! The fact you could see your boss’s significant other walk by, see your employee’s kid sit on their lap mid-meeting, hear their dog bark… or in my case, our pet pig (Hamilton), the UPS guy ringing the bell, etc. provided an opportunity for us to get more human-to-human than we’ve ever been.
Titles and professional positions at work still mattered, but not as much as getting the job done, knowing the role you play, leaders knowing their people and possessing the ability to maintain the vision and provide flexibility to ensure success, and EVERYONE on the team exuding great personal leadership and effective leadership skills to lead themselves daily; outside the watchful eye of corporate management!
So, how do you keep the COVID-Effect going for your organization, leaders, employees, and teams as your people begin to come back to the office?
Awareness & Planning
The first thing is to be aware that some of your leaders and employees can’t wait to come back to work, while others don’t want to be there at all… wishing they still had on their Zoom-Outfit and comfy slippers, and that Frank from down the hall in 2020 may not be the same Frank in 2021 and beyond. A lot happens in a day, in a week… it’s been more than a year! In that time, people have experienced professional change, life change, and the company has hired employees virtually they have never physically shaken hands with… and now everyone is supposed to play in the same sandbox without a hiccup? Leadership & Work/Life Harmony is more important for your organization and team than ever before… Be Mindful!
I often share my concept of A Leader’s 1-on-1 Meetings. Begin to use them virtually and continue as your people return to the office; easing the stressors I mentioned above and sparing yourself and your people from surprises that could be easily avoided. I always start my 1-on-1 with The Positive of the Month, what they’d like to get out of the meeting, mesh my (or organizational) goals with theirs, get an understanding of “Their List” (their list of things to get done), develop a plan, and ask their biggest take-away. Many companies around the world have adopted this simple concept, remained consistent, and significantly enhanced morale, motivation, and impact… it’s a true gift for your people, your leadership, and the organization!
The Human-to-Human Experience
A leader once asked me, “So, how do we get back to normal”. It was a shocking question, considering my mindset and motto of living in the positives and managing the negatives. It was clear, not every person has my mindset and not every organization is enjoying the newer way of leading. Therefore, it’s important to keep the Human-to-Human Experience going! In returning to the office, it’s easy to forget the times you saw your boss’s or employee’s kids on their lap, their dog barking during calls, or their favorite color is yellow because of the color of the wall behind them on those hundreds of Zoom Calls. Instead, you return to the organizational drill of seeing them as their title either above you or below you… Be Mindful!
It may also be advantageous to ask about their pet, their partner, their kids, etc. once you return to the office… allowing that smile to begin on their face as they are reminded of what matters most to them. Of course, not everyone enjoys mixing professional and personal… be mindful to respect their boundaries and cherish the fact you were granted, although by a global pandemic, virtual entry into their private world!
Lastly, allow evolution to occur within your organization, your leaders, employees, and teams as we move forward! This doesn’t mean everyone gets to do what they want, when they want, and how they want… that’s not evolution; that’s chaos! Evolution simply means you respect the fact things have changed… to maintain the COVID-Effect; what did you really enjoy from pre-Covid times, professionally and organizationally, that makes sense to bring back, what did you really enjoy or what became most useful and sensible to continue through the impact of Covid, and what do you want to add moving forward to achieve and evolve the vision of your organization and team… that’s evolution!
Remember… live in your positives, manage the negatives, find that silver lining, and make it brighter for you, your people, and your organization. Enjoy!
You’d be surprised how much more people will do with you, for you, because of you, and forgive about your mistakes as a leader when they feel more connected to you and the vision!Andre Young
Andre Young is a speaker, author, leadership trainer, and Founder of You Evolving Now, LLC. He worked as a Mental Health Therapist for 19 years, played sports at every level from high school to professional, been an employee, business owner, and self-employed, and is an author of three books, EVOLVE, 7 Ways to Love, and 7 Ways to Lead. Most people would like to EVOLVE as leaders, professionally and personally, and as Founder of You Evolving Now it is Andre’s mission to enhance their leadership with his books, on-site speaking engagements, and leadership programs.