Having always been a proponent of the leadership concept, slowing down to speed up, I wanted to share some thoughts with you. I learned this concept early in my career as a young manager and professional trainer and facilitator of the Ken Blanchard “Situational Leadership” curriculum. Having spent four amazing years traveling the globe facilitating leadership training for my organization, I had the privilege of meeting some inspiring leaders.
Regardless of the country or the culture of the location, we had meaningful discussions about the positive impact of taking time to develop our people and the tug of middle managers and C-Level leaders to spend time on coaching and training versus doing their day job; everyone left with the best of intentions to take more time to slow down. Some being really very successful at the implementation of this concept and something I set out to master myself.
Working in a remote office for almost 10 years taught me a lot, so this ‘new normal’ is actually not so new for me. Back then, I was challenged by the very leaders that sent me into our company to teach others about leadership. Their belief was that leadership could not be successful remotely. So, I had to prove them wrong. A great leader is a great leader whether they work on-site or remotely. It’s not their physical presence that makes them great, it is simply their presence. And that presence can be achieved remotely.
Here’s a tip to be effective remotely as a leader, if you haven’t done so already, get in a routine and stick to it. It helps a lot. I was laser-focused on implementing innovative ways to stay connected to my team to coach, mentor, and train them. For three years, my team and I were two time zones apart. I was new as their leader, so I needed to find and use effective ways to stay connected and communicate consistently. All calls were virtual so I could see their body language and the activity in the office when we talked through their challenges. They didn’t love it at first, but it was so critical, and it really helped me to connect with them have a clear picture on what they were personally experiencing. We also used shared technologies so I could have access to information when they were already at home spending time with their family while I wrapped up my workday. The key here is having a routine and a cadence and sticking to it.
Over time, maybe like the rest of you, time to coach and develop others seemed to slip away and the crush of the 24/7 workweek got the best of me as the world progressed on virtual offices and virtual interactions at all times of day and night. Looking back, we were literally working at all times of day and night. In hindsight, when was I slowing down to speed up? I wasn’t. What that really meant was that my team wasn’t getting all of me as their leader. Yes, we still got the job done (and then some…still so proud of the team) and we had 100% client retention, but at what expense? Theirs. Mine.
Today, on my journey of success with my current team and as I have discussions with clients on their talent strategies, I have continued along with developing new strategies on how to navigate the pace of the race.
Then, all of a sudden, the world changed.
For some of you, business may be picking up during this time, but for most, it is slowing down and maybe even tough decisions are having to be made on who is on the team and what the new normal will be for your team. I’m simply astounded at the amount of information being published about ways to manage this and in my opinion, now is an amazing opportunity to get to know your team. With a strong encouragement to really get to know them.
The time is NOW to slow down to speed up.
The reality is, as leaders, we have no idea what the new normal will look like or even when our respective industries will level out. Time may now be less of a commodity in your day and the opportunity is ours to be able to reflect on what’s important for our team. Trust me, that episode on Netflix can wait. Spend some time one-on-one with each one of your team talking to them about what they would like their new normal to look like at the end of this. We should also be reflecting on what’s most important for ourselves. What has been on the “list” of things you have always wished you could do, be, or have? Enrolling in that course… starting that project… getting or giving the helping hand … that exciting next transition.
Times are tough right now. Normal is not normal, but this normal is going to change again. Your biggest loss could be not taking the time to slow down to speed up and coming out on the other side unchanged. How are you going to slow down to speed up? How are you going to bloom after this storm? Do you need help with this change? I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.