As we step into the year 2023, corporate leaders are faced with an ongoing challenge of a rapidly changing business environment. For a few of my clients, I am seeing them face a very pressing and unfortunate issue - navigating the challenge of layoffs. This has created a sense of uncertainty and fear among employees and highlighted the importance for them to navigate - purposefully, transparently, and with care and compassion.
Recently, I observed one of my executive clients communicate a very difficult message to his team that 50 jobs would be eliminated. Each one of the employees in the room was directly impacted. He delivered the news clearly yet compassionately as he explained the circumstances, acknowledged the impact of the decision, and offered space & uncomfortable silence for the individuals sitting in front of him to process the news best.
He put himself in the shoes of his employees - many tenured and committed for years to the organization - and took a heart-centered approach to share the difficult news. In navigating the challenge of layoffs, he met his employees in a place of empathy, went off script a little where necessary, and did his best to hold the space they needed to receive the news. He showed up as an intentional leader during a difficult time, and his actions served as an excellent example for other executives to follow.
In my book, Lead with Heart & Leave a Legacy, I talk about my own experience as a corporate executive faced with communicating a layoff. The lack of progress against the company strategy led to a top-down decision to execute a reduction in the workforce across the organization.
It was a heartbreaking day, but my team needed a sincere, transparent, vulnerable leader. The experience taught me the importance of leading with care and compassion during difficult times and proved to be the best approach in minimizing impact on the people.
When navigating the challenge of layoffs, intentional leaders prioritize taking steps to minimize the impact on their employees. They do this by adopting a heart-led approach that focuses on transparency, compassion, and being connected.
Here are three things that intentional leaders do when navigating the challenge of layoffs:
For my executive client, how he chose to communicate the devastating news influenced how those individuals reacted and accelerated their ability to process through the change. While life-changing, they felt supported and mirrored their leader's calm sense of commitment.
The year 2023 will continue to present many challenges for corporate leaders, including the ongoing issue of layoffs. By communicating transparently, showing care and compassion, and being mindful of the concerns of their remaining employees, corporate leaders can navigate the challenge of layoffs while minimizing employee impact and fostering a culture that will thrive in the years to come.
If you are a corporate leader looking to develop intentional leadership skills in your organization and cultivate a culture of care and compassion even in the most challenging of times, I invite you to work with me.
Is employee engagement a priority for your organization?
If it’s not, it should be. 82% of employees want their company to see them as a person, not just an employee (Gartner (2022)).
Being seen as a person looks like:
To meet the rising demand for more “people-centered” workplaces, leaders must lead differently.
In my work, I see two types of leaders:
Transaction leaders prioritize results, metrics, and outcomes. Intentional leaders prioritize people – while still meeting key targets and performance expectations.
Given what we know employees expect and prioritize, intentional leadership is more imperative than ever.
Top performers want to work for someone who is focused on cultivating personal connections, digging into what inspires each individual contributor, and creating personalized motivational strategies.
It’s easy to tell leaders to show up differently and lean into the proven practices of intentional leadership – but it’s a bit harder in practice.
Change fatigue and work friction, increased by remote and hybrid work, leave most leaders feeling unprepared, unsupported, and uncertain about how to be an effective leader.
Enter: Executive coaching.
This is the most effective way to equip today’s leaders to make behavioral changes and perspective shifts to become an effective, intentional leader.
Executive coaching is effective. It’s also one of the top resources and professional development tools requested by leaders themselves.
48% of global leaders want to learn from external coaching (DDI 2022).
Executive coaching has many benefits for leaders – both professionally and personally. Of those benefits, these are the 5 most important ways executive coaching can impact your leaders:
1. Create Space
An executive coaching engagement can provide the forum and breathing room that allows the leader to get off the hamster wheel for a moment and refocus/reconnect to their role as a leader. This space creates room to feel effective and connected to their purpose again.
When leaders are given the gift of time/space to focus their own leadership, they feel seen, acknowledged, and understood. This leads to feeling inspired and supported, so they can show up and create value for their team and organization.
2. Expand Possibility
A skilled executive coach will guide your leaders to their highest potential. Coaches use their skills, like active listening and building trust, to create a connection with each leader. This personal connection and belief gives the leader a conduit to see their own strengths and potential.
3. Increase Self Awareness
Leaders need to be more aware of their role. Without increased self-awareness, leaders, like all of us, will blindly continue doing things the same way as usual. The trouble with self-awareness is that it’s challenging to develop on your own.
An executive coach will guide leaders to examine their behavior, reflect on their decisions, and facilitate a powerful experience that allows the leader to become more aware of their values, emotions, and habits – and how they impact the people they lead.
Coaches help people see themselves more clearly and more compassionately. Executive coaching is the best way for a leader to understand their strengths and weaknesses, learning how to see different perspectives and accounting for their own actions as they are mirrored back.
4. Challenge Beliefs and Support Shifts
Like with self-awareness, it’s almost impossible to challenge long-held beliefs or shift your perspective on your own. Executive coaching gives leaders the power to examine the things they believe and the perspectives they hold to determine how these things affect their team and overall organization. Leaders who feel empowered to reconsider their beliefs and make important shifts are then able to re-engage with their team, recommit to their values and goals, and reignite their impact.
Leaders who participate in executive coaching feel more aligned to their priorities and are better at helping their team members feel aligned to their projects and responsibilities. An aligned leader is an inspired, effective leader.
The engagement, morale, retention, and overall well being of a company won’t change if leaders don’t start doing something different.
The benefits of effective executive coaching include improved emotional intelligence, better ego control, and an enhanced perspective. Is this the “different” you’re looking for?
If you’re ready to develop more effective, intentional leaders – click here to learn more about executive coaching and how our team of coaches can benefit your organization.
I don’t know about you, but this Thanksgiving was the first time since 2019 we could have the extended family together. Our celebration included 50 family members – aunts, uncles, and cousins – together in close quarters, sharing stories, laughter, and hugs. We were all in a room together… without masks! It felt like a renewed spirit of family and connection.
Because so much time had passed since our last gathering, it did take some time to “break the ice.” We had to intentionally work to increase the comfort level and rebuild the connection with extended family we hadn’t seen in a while.
We all needed time and space to symbolically remove our (COVID) masks and create space to step into our authentic selves. Reflecting on this experience highlighted the importance of authenticity and reminded me of how often this topic has come up in my work recently, especially in my work with self-aware leaders.
I recently asked a group of leaders – “What do you believe builds trust most quickly within a team?” Their answer? Authenticity.
But when it comes to being authentic, we often get it wrong – thinking “being authentic” always equates to “feeling comfortable.”
HBR published information about the authenticity paradox – digging into how feeling like you’re “faking it” can signify growth. Contrary to popular belief, genuine authenticity is about vulnerability and self-awareness, often requiring leaders to step out of their comfort zone.
What does the authenticity paradox look like in practice? Navigating the desire to be your “true self” when at the office while also recognizing that you are a work in progress that can (and should) grow and evolve to meet your organization's and team's changing needs.
As their careers advance, many leaders are challenged to elevate their leadership contributions in expanded or new roles. It’s at this moment that we must fight the urge to retreat to familiar behaviors and styles that feel authentic but are actually a step back. Growth often requires leaders to live in discomfort, being willing to create a new authenticity that reflects their expanded skills and responsibilities.
So many of us buy into the myth that authentic leaders have unwavering confidence in who they are. We believe it’s a sign that we are not authentic if we show signs of weakness, self-doubt, or discomfort. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Authentic leaders commit to learning more about themselves. They are vulnerable in sharing their mistakes and humble in their willingness to learn as they go.
I’ve noticed the importance of self-aware authenticity even more lately. These days, the new normal includes hybrid work schedules with remote teams and physically disconnected colleagues. With the leaders and teams I work with, on the rare occasion that teams come together in person, they need time to “remove the mask” and step into their authenticity. Everyone needs a little space before they are prepared to let themselves be seen and connect with one another.
Removing the mask takes courage and intentionality.
Leaders need the space to recognize the disconnect and the courage to stay open in the discomfort, so we can ultimately bring our best to the office and the teams we lead!
Interested in helping your leaders remove their masks and understand the crucial importance of self-aware, vulnerable authenticity?
I work directly with leadership teams to develop the soft skills required to succeed in the ever-changing landscape of today’s modern workplace.
Click here to learn more about how I can support your team.
May is mental health awareness month, so it feels like the perfect time to discuss what burnout and self-care can look like in the workplace.
The topic of burnout is becoming a major focus for many organizations. It’s encouraging to see workplaces raise awareness of the dangers of burnout and the importance of self-care and acknowledge the significant impact of workplace stress and long hours on employee health.
But this is still an area where many leaders need to deepen their understanding of burnout and self-care – putting in the time and energy to truly care for their employees and team members.
Burnout is defined as Chronic workplace stress not successfully managed by employers or employees.
One important thing to note here is that the opposite of burnout is not an absence of stress, but rather the successful management of stress. Leading successful teams will always carry some stress, but if we can learn how to use self-care to appropriately handle our job responsibilities – and teach our teams to do the same – we can avoid the dangerous repercussions of severe burnout.
Here’s what we know is true: Teams are burnt out – it’s a global health condition at this point.
According to Gallup, workplace stress costs $300B per year and 44% of workers regularly experience burnout and exhaustion.
These stats show us that, as leaders, we are acutely responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of our people. We must be aware of what can happen when we ignore the signs of burnout, push our teams too far, and don’t make space for proper self-care.
I started thinking more about burnout – specifically who is to blame when it happens – after I was asked to speak about the benefits of self-care (and the negative impact of burnout). I personally experienced a serious health scare due to the burnout I suffered, which ultimately led me to make huge changes in my lifestyle and career. And I really wanted to know – whose fault is it?
Was it my leaders’ fault for not seeing the signs and creating an unhealthy environment?
Was it my organization’s fault for creating a toxic culture and having outsized expectations?
Or was it my fault – for letting things get so bad before I made any personal changes?
As I thought about who to blame, I realized something: The better question is what can be done about burnout and self-care in the workplace?
We have all played a part in letting things get so out of hand, and I think our energy should be spent on finding solutions and creating positive change within our realm of influence.
Before we can find feasible solutions, we need to understand how burnout occurs, even in businesses that don’t intend to work their employees into an unhealthy state.
The world is changing at an exhaustive rate. We are always on. We have competing priorities to keep up with and everyone expects instantaneous gratification. We can always be reached. Everything is urgent.
And while it’s convenient to blame COVID, this burnout culture existed long before the global pandemic. COVID simply accelerated and exacerbated the issue.
For organizations who thrived during COVID, it was game on to capitalize on the opportunity to experience exponential growth in a new segment, new category, or new industry.
For organizations who struggled during COVID, it was game on to keep the business afloat, rethink, reinvent and emerge on the other side so they could rebuild what once was.
Employees on either side of the coin were overworked with blurred lines between work and home, anxiously facing sleepless nights, worried about their job, or worried they wouldn’t appear as productive as they needed to be to save themselves if they had to.
The demands of our busy lives, coupled with the performance cultures we face in our jobs, wear us down and make burnout a real experience.
Burnout is caused by:
And these are all things that destroy performance while harming individuals.
When speaking to a local news channel about burnout in 2019, I gave a suggestion to “get 7 hours of sleep” as an effective way to combat burnout. This simple suggestion garnered a snicker from the anchor – you can watch the clip here. It just shows how far we have to come, and how embedded the burnout culture truly is.
So what are we, as leaders, supposed to do?
The solution for burnout isn’t “self-care” – and it isn’t lowering performance expectations.
Solving burnout in the workplace requires a co-created space between employees and the company that includes ambition, drive, results, and time to rest and recharge.
Hard work should be met by equal rest. The most ambitious of your people need to be praised for recharging the same way they are praised for meeting big goals. We must remove the stigma of “laziness” and reframe genuine rest and recharging as essential components of success.
Whether you’re a leader looking for better ways to support your employee's overall well-being or an employee teetering on the edge, looking for ways to avoid burnout – here are 3 strategies to try:
My work is centered around helping leaders become more effective while also leading more fulfilling lives. If you’re interested in working together to avoid burnout, recover from existing burnout, help your employees avoid burnout, or learn how to implement a self-care practice that prioritizes success and recharging – I’d love to chat with you.
You can contact me here to get started.
Just as I challenge my clients to grow, develop, and progress as intentional leaders and toward their goals, they also challenge me. Through our discussions, I regularly learn new things that are reinforced daily, and I am challenged to continue to embody the coaching mindset (one of the ICF core competencies).
This challenge serves me well, as I ensure to “walk the talk” – both in my work and in my life.
Most recently, a client conversation inspired a discussion, and further consideration, of intention.
Intention has always been a major concept and guiding principle for me, both as a leader and as a coach of leaders.
I practiced intentional leadership, wrote about it in my book, and now I help my clients define and practice how to show up and engage with others with intention in their own leadership.
It’s clear that being intentional is a big deal. Being a present, effective, heart-led leader is a defining characteristic. But it doesn’t always have to be a big habit or a big practice.
In the previously mentioned discussion with my client, our conversation showed me the power of practicing, and demonstrating, micro-moments of intention.
As I’ve written about a number of times, and like I tell all of my clients – being an intentional leader requires thought and planning. Choosing to lead with intention can be time-consuming and detailed. You can feel like you need dedicated time to think, plan, and get ahead of your goals each day.
You spend time considering, “Who can I purposefully engage with today?” and “How can I show up in this meeting to best engage with my team and inspire them to take action to solve XYZ?”
An intentional leader champions their employees, connects with their colleagues, and acts with purpose.
Whew! I’m exhausted just reading that description. It’s true – being an intentional leader does take time, energy, and focus. (And it’s worth it!)
But it doesn’t always have to be so arduous. In fact, there are daily opportunities to practice micro-moments of intention outside of the bigger, more recognizable areas of intention.
You’re not always going to have a plan – and that’s okay. The best leaders know how to embrace micro-moments of intention to stand in their power and remain in the driver’s seat of a particular situation.
You can be intentional without a plan! These micro-moments are all about reinforcing your ability to lead with intention at your core, without a pre-planned effort or decision.
To put it another way, these micro-moments help you build an intrinsic, natural reflex and habit of being intentional. They are a powerful addition to your leadership toolkit! And micro-moments help you show your people who you really are.
What do these micro-moments look like in practice? Let’s explore some examples.
A micro-moment of intention can be a:
Take 3 minutes right now and jot down a few times today when you experienced a potential micro-moment of intention.
Did you choose to act with intention or did you let the moment pass? This isn’t a practice in judgment – it’s about recognizing how often these moments occur and being more aware of how we engage with them.
Invite the micro-moments in and choose to show up with intention. This is how you’ll become the leader you want to be.
Need help understanding how to engage with more intention or improve your skills as an intentional leader? This is exactly what I help my clients with, and I’d love to see how I can help you step into your true leadership potential. Everyone benefits when you lead with compassion, empathy, and intention.
Let’s chat and see what’s possible when we work together. Click here to schedule a free consultation.
Does this sound familiar?
You have achieved a certain level of success as a leader. Colleagues respect you, and your team recognizes that you have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful, too. You get results. It is clear to everyone in your organization that you are a disciplined, proven leader.
And yet you still feel like an imposter.
Every day you find yourself doubting your decisions, second-guessing your choices, and feeling like you’ll never be enough.
It’s exhausting. And you’re not alone.
Women have made incredible strides in the workplace – we’re earning more college and graduate degrees than men and closing the gap in middle-management… but men are still getting paid more and promoted faster. (The Atlantic)
So what’s going on?
According to reporters and researchers Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:
“Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.”
But when it comes to actual outcomes and results for men versus women? The quality of their actual performance doesn’t differ much. (The Atlantic)
As women, we doubt ourselves. There’s a massive confidence gap that’s holding us back from top leadership positions and exhausting us on a daily basis. Yes, your role as a leader is complex and stressful – that’s true for any leader, male or female.
But when you actively step into your power and embrace your confidence, things do start to feel a bit easier. You free up your mental and creative energy to focus on problem-solving and helping your team instead of constantly worrying that you’re not enough or doing something wrong.
And because you know we are all about taking action around here – I’m sharing 4 simple, direct ways you can increase your confidence, decrease your self-doubt, and close that confidence gap.
I work with my one-on-one leadership coaching clients to help them shift their perspective, change the narrative, reframe the stories they tell themselves, and declutter their minds so they can lead with less overwhelm and more balance, less stress, and more ease; less push and more receive.
Those changes and shifts take months to fully take hold, but you can follow these steps to start closing your own confidence gap today.
Step #1: Know Your Values
Make a “Top 5” list of the qualities you think it’s most important to have. You’ll feel more confident – and more authentically you – when you know you’re living and leading by your own set of values instead of trying to conform to someone else’s.
Step #2: Keep an Open Mind
Sticking to rigid thinking leaves you second-guessing every choice and decision. Approach your work, your team, and your colleagues with an open mind and see how much easier it is to appreciate good ideas, be more creative, and stop worrying so much about being “right.”
Step #3: Practice Boldness
A huge reason for the confidence gap? Men believe their ideas are great and women are timider about putting themselves out there. Start small – with speaking up in a meeting or starting a conversation – and practice increasing your bold actions each day. Will it feel uncomfortable? Probably. But keep practicing, and soon, you will feel comfortable standing up and standing out!
Step #4: Avoid Perfectionism
Done is better than perfect. So many times, we (women) second-guess our work and let perfectionism keep us from sharing an idea, solving a problem, or achieving a result. You are not naturally perfect (no one is), and the sooner you can let go of that need the sooner you will see your confidence bloom.
Doubting yourself and second-guessing your decisions is exhausting. It also ends up hurting your productivity, your results, and ultimately your career.
If you want to be the most effective leader possible, you have to step into your confidence and lead from a place of feeling empowered, capable, and authentic. That is when you will really live up to your potential, see your true success, and help your team members grow.
Feel like you need some help in this area? It can be difficult to overcome your self-doubt tendencies on your own. That’s where a coach can make a huge difference. I help women identify their own confidence gap and make major shifts in perspective, mindset, and beliefs in order to increase their confidence, ditch the stress and overwhelm, and lead with ease.
If that sounds like something you would like to experience, you can click here to check out my 1:1 services.
And if you’re ready to tackle your confidence gap on your own, make sure you start with the steps above and systematically break down your doubt and fears. Your team, your organization, and your career will thank you!
There is a popular misconception within leadership circles that hard situations require an even harder response. Good leaders respond to challenge with a steely exterior and unflinching approach. If you’ve spent any time around my community, it will not surprise you that I disagree with this hard-nosed approach, and have actually found a surprising benefit to employing the softer side of resilience. And many of my clients want to know what I think it means to be resilient.
The past year and a half have been hard. That’s an inescapable fact. And it’s true that I have seen these challenges met with strong, tough words and approaches. But where I have seen the most successful heart leadership is in the softer responses. Responding with empathy and kindness when employees struggle – feeling disconnected because of work-from-home setups, not having adequate childcare during work hours, worrying about family members’ health and safety, not making payroll, and feeling burned out after working long hours and being expected to work more. These scenarios are playing out in every organization right now.
The leaders who are answering the call and showing up for their people are the leaders showing up and following the three R’s of resilience: relationships, recovery, and reframe.
When you put time and attention into building and nurturing relationships – both professional and personal – in the workplace, you pave the road for an easier path when you encounter challenges or bumps in the road. These relationships help you feel connected to a community and like you’re not in it alone.
Think about the people you lead and the customers you serve – are you building responsive, personal relationships with them? If you think that building empathetic, trustworthy relationships doesn’t matter, consider that 48% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after a poor experience. Engaging personally, leading with empathy, and showing compassion – all traits of strong relationships – results in lower customer turnover.
To improve your relationships in the workplace and start building your resilient leadership skill set, try this simple but powerful “Foster Your Team” exercise. Write down the names of your important support network (at work and at home). Under each name, write down two things you can do to strengthen your relationship with that person in the next week. Then show up and do the work! You will be surprised how quickly relationships can strengthen and deepen with just a little intentional action.
Recovery (and recharge) is where you manage your energy. Resilient leaders take self-care seriously. They know that the long days, sleepless nights, blurred lines between home and work, worry, overworking, and mental energy drain of the past 18 months take a toll on their own ability to lead and their employees’ ability to perform.
Stress doesn’t just go away if you ignore it, and there are steep consequences for failing to recover and recharge appropriately. According to stress.org, US businesses lose up to $300 billion every year as a result of workplace stress. And that’s just the financial loss. Burnout and exhaustion also lead to chronic health conditions, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
When asking, “What does it mean to be resilient?” you can’t escape the integral importance of recovery. But don’t worry – recovering and recharging can be accomplished with a few small, intentional daily actions.
Simple, Effective Ways to Recover:
Resilient leaders are excellent at reframing. In stressful situations, we tend to naturally focus on the negative – What’s the challenge? What went wrong? What’s bad about this situation? But flipping the script and reframing a stressful situation in a positive light and finding the upside of stress is a key differentiator in developing resilience. If you’d like to dive deeper into reframing, Kelly McGonigal wrote an excellent book called The Upside of Stress about how to use stress to your advantage.
Looking at the upside of a challenging situation is scientifically proven to enhance your resilience, help you feel more engaged, and experience less negative thinking overall. In practice, this looks like flipping the narrative we automatically adopt. Rather than challenge, think opportunity! Rather than victim, think victory!
To practice your own reframing skill, try this quick and easy exercise. Think about a stressful or upsetting experience you have had lately – it can be something as small as missing a deliverable at work. Now, instead of the frustration (and anger, shame, guilt, etc.) you experienced when this happened, reflect on three positive things that came out of the experience. Maybe it helped you have more empathy when an employee missed a deadline the next day or led to a bigger, more important conversation you needed to have with your team. Whatever it was, notice how focusing on the positive takes the sting out of the experience and reduces your stress.
Resilient leaders regularly practice the 3 R’s: Relationships, Recovery, and Reframing. Focusing on these three areas will help you show up with compassion, lead with empathy, and ultimately help your team succeed. Stressful situations don’t require hard-edged responses.
If you’re interested in working with me to teach your team more about the power of resilient leadership and how the 3 R’s can help them be more effective leaders, please contact me for details.
The wrong mindset might be the very thing holding you back from achieving your potential. It doesn’t matter what specific goals they set for themselves – career change, job shift, promotion, better work/life balance – we inevitably end up talking about mindset.
I see this time and time again with my clients.
It is only when we have a calm, clear, focused, intentional mind, that we do our best work. This is when amazing things happen!
This state – one of clarity and focus – is also known as a “performance mindset,” and a high-performance mindset is an essential tool in your leadership toolbox.
It determines how you think about and interprets situations. It determines your emotional reactions. It determines the decisions you make and the actions you take.
All crucial considerations and choices for any leadership role in this global, complex, urgent world today.
…The emerging leader is focused on increasing her confidence.
…The senior operations leader is focused on delegating to her team.
…The high-performing sales executive is focused on internal collaboration.
To be successful with any developmental strategies that improve these areas, the right mindset is required FIRST. Your mindset directly supports your ability to reframe your thinking and create new habits for success.
How are you showing up each day?
If you aren’t operating as your best self every day, then it is likely you are bringing beliefs and thoughts to the table that are not serving you and could actually be pushing you further away from the life you want.
So many high-achieving leaders charge forward. But the most successful leaders I coach, seek clarity first. Go slow, to go fast. When you slow down, you have time to assess the situation, gather additional inputs, and come up with an intentional plan of action, free from speedbumps and unintended consequences that take you off course. Slowing down will help you go further, faster.
Practice Positive Daily Habits:
One size does not fit all. Building and sustaining a high-performance mindset has to be authentic to you and it should be reflective of the way you naturally approach the world. The practices, patterns, and approaches will look different for everyone but they generate the same outcome – increased confidence, a sense of calm, and most importantly, awareness of your emotions and behaviors. Positive daily habits like – affirmations, gratitude, physical exercise, meditation – start to automatically produce thoughts and beliefs that are productive.
Why is it important for you to do well? Define your greater purpose – that reason beyond yourself that you connect to and that motivates you to show up as your best self. Harnessing this motivation will help you be mentally tough and give you the energy and resilience you need when things get hard.
Start small and build from there. Committing to new habits and nurturing a calm, clear, focused, intentional mindset will be a differentiator in your success.
After over a year of working from home, avoiding family gatherings, and checking in with friends and coworkers over Zoom, we’re exhausted. We haven’t hugged our loved ones or spent quality time with our friends or colleagues in person. The mental, emotional, and physical toll of our collective isolation is significant. But we have also discovered that we are more resilient than many of us even thought possible.
We have created a new integrated life, where work and home became a unique blend for many of us. We’ve discovered unexpected blessings, new priorities, and positive experiences amidst the chaos of pandemic life.
It is now time to decide what served us and be deliberate and intentional about what we carry forward into the next normal.
I often hear from my clients, friends and family that they are anxious to "go back to normal." The truth is, we can’t ever go back. Things have fundamentally changed: in public spaces, work environments, and social settings. There will be no “going back to normal” at any point.
But this isn’t as dire as it sounds. In fact, I believe we all have a rare chance to live life with great intention, as we move into the next “normal.”
We shouldn’t want to go back. Remember that hamster wheel of life that was constantly spinning – late nights at the office, over-committed calendars, making time for everyone but ourselves? We have had a year (or more) to adjust and leave much of that life behind, and if we are intentional about moving forward, we can avoid ever falling back into those toxic patterns.
Despite the stress and disruption of a year-plus of COVID-restricted life, there are a whole host of positive things we can bring with us into our next normal. The key is in taking time to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves and truly come to appreciate since March 2020.
Living life with intention as we move forward is the only way to avoid falling back into bad habits. It took us over two months to adjust to social distancing and COVID restrictions, but we can fall back into our “old normal” way of life in as little as two weeks if we aren’t diligent.
Examine your life now:
Once you are aware of these shifts and the positive things you would like to keep, you can take steps to ensuring they remain part of your life.
You have reflected on your life since March 2020 and identified the changes, routines, and expectations you’d like to keep. Maybe this looks like closing your laptop at 4:30 and spending half-an-hour with your kids before you start dinner prep. Maybe it means keeping your morning walk. Or maybe you’ve fallen in love with having small blocks of unscheduled time in your week that you want to protect!
Learning to set boundaries will help you protect the things that serve you.
Boundaries are limits we set with others that establish what behaviors we will allow and what we will not. Setting healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable if you’ve never really used them before, but boundaries actually help us enjoy our relationships and avoid stress, anger, and conflict.
We can’t ever go back to life before COVID, but we can create boundaries to protect the things we have gained and come to appreciate since experiencing quarantine, social distancing, and COVID restrictions. You owe it to yourself to move into the next normal as strong, healthy, and balanced as possible.
I know that learning how to set boundaries can be challenging, which is why I created this helpful resource designed to help you determine your personal standards and then set healthy boundaries to protect those standards.
I invite you to download this resource and spend some time working through it. You’ll be amazed at how your healthy boundaries will help you create and protect a life that serves you and your highest values.
As many of my executive leadership clients faced the uncertainty and adversity of this past year, they were compelled to focus more actively on building resilient leadership. Wanting desperately to be able to function best under pressure, master stressful situations, make swift and strong decisions as circumstances felt out of their control.
This year had this effect on many of us – at work and at home.
Life is full of ups and downs. When challenging experiences inevitably arise, we all want to be ready to rise to the occasion.
We often take a militaristic, “tough” approach and focus on demonstrating resilient leadership. We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be.
For many of us being a resilient leader means focusing on the skills and competence to deal with any situation or set back. It means have control over the current realities and being strong and tough enough to cope with whatever trauma or tragedy comes our way.
The hardest things being met with and described by the strongest and toughest words and actions.
But sometimes the hardest things require the softest approaches.
When reflecting on this past year, those who were demonstrating resilient leadership most, were the ones intentional in their actions and engagements each day. Empathetically, genuinely, compassionately walking in the shoes of their employees. Connecting deep in their organizations. Taking quick action and making hard decisions but with care and compassion.
Resilient leadership was most evident from those leaders who were leading with heart.
What if you could build your resilience and be ready for the greatest hardships by focusing on the softest things?
One of my clients is a global executive tasked with driving a multi-million-dollar change initiative for her company. Delays were costly, critical talent on the team left and change fatigue had set in. It was time to “sell hope”. She demonstrated her commitment to her employees by getting in the trenches with them, recognizing their contributions and engaging them in what mattered most – the feeling of pride, accomplishment, and success they would feel at the completion of the project.
Recognizing the impact that the uncertainty is having on the people that drive the organization and inspiring them with what’s ahead is a sign of resilient leadership.
Being tough and enduring a grueling schedule with long days and sleepless nights doesn’t build resilience. When we lack recovery, it dramatically holds us back from our ability to be resilient. The more imbalanced we become due to overworking, the more value there is in activities that allow us to return to a state of balance. The value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us. Give yourself the resources and permission to intentionally create internal and external recovery periods. This is the way to role model resilient leadership for yourself and your teams.
“Focus on what's strong rather than what's wrong.”
In times of crisis, it is easy to focus on what was missed, what needs to be solved, what could have gone better. When we only see what is wrong, then feelings of disappointment and regret seep into everything we do. Instead, provide the compass to weather the storm - shift the focus to trust in self and team, and reinforce confidence in them that they will emerge even stronger tomorrow.
We all seek to grow, and challenging moments are there to do just that. Leaders that bring optimism and confidence to their employees will build a sense of resilience in them and those around them.
Over the last year I have seen some interesting examples of how my clients maintained connection with their employees – virtual coffee breaks or happy hours, introductions of kids and pets on video calls, starting meetings with ice breaker questions, Uber Eats home deliveries so teams can enjoy lunch together. These actions acknowledge how radically personal priorities have shifted and how a global health crisis has created a collective change in our lives.
Providing the forums for team members to express their thoughts, worries and fears and supporting their ability to connect with each other, gives them a sense of psychological safety during times of crisis.
As a leader, being empathetic and understanding and sharing your own personal challenges will demonstrate that you are “in it together”. Create the community they need behind them and everyone will build the resilience necessary to get through challenging times together.
Ultimately, the resilient leadership needed today requires INTENTION - leveraging the softer side of resilience to endure the hardest of times. These leaders are vulnerable and empathetic in their engagements and interactions. They invest in human interaction during challenging times and better prepare their teams and organizations to face the hardships of tomorrow.
There are countless opportunities daily to practice the softer side of resilience and to lead with heart. If you are interested in learning more about intentional, resilient leadership and these practices to build your resilience for today and tomorrow, schedule a call today.
Tricia is a global business leader, author, and leadership coach. Her unique corporate background gives her a clear understanding of the personal and professional challenges that senior business leaders face today. She brings real-life expertise around talent, culture, and leadership to every coaching engagement. Tricia is committed to helping individuals, teams and organizations accelerate performance.
Tricia believes this can be done with authenticity and staying true to personal values, beliefs, and leadership styles.