What's your long-haul leadership strategy?

What’s been highlighted for me this week is that leaders and teams (and the whole community) need to prepare for the long-haul. For me, it’s been like I thought I was going on a plane trip to a new destination, only to now realise that I am actually on a long sea voyage. 

Are you in high performance mode?

Therefore, my mindset needs to be totally different if I’m to keep myself at my best. For my team, my ways of engaging with them, supporting them and working with them need to be totally different so that they can keep performing. That’s why I believe that a focus on well-being is hugely important for leaders and teams to support our ability to lean into the long-haul. I’ve been interviewing leaders to understand what they have learned during the last few months about their teams and about leadership. I’ll report more on this in coming editions but a few themes have emerged.

What the leaders say...

In Phase 1 of COVID-19 (outbreak until now) there was a sense of the whole team coming together and mobilising around a common purpose. Many leaders noted that people in their teams stepped up. For many in rural and regional teams, not a lot changed as they were used to remote working. For others, people adapted and changed their behaviour substantially – this takes a lot of energy as our brains don’t like change. Instead of being able to operate on auto-pilot throughout our day, we need to think more and make more decisions which ultimately tires our brains. I think we’re now entering what I’m terming Phase 2 of COVID-19. Many people have been operating on adrenalin, and working from home is starting to get very fatiguing for many of us. The novelty is wearing off. People are needing a break. Many leaders have reported that with reduced travel, there has been no down time – to listen to a podcast, or reflect, or do the thinking. Many have reported that days are packed with constant Zoom meetings – there’s not even time to go to the toilet or have a break. There’s a lack of the casual chats over coffee or bumping into people where creative ideas and connections emerge. Leaders I’ve spoken to have also said that the new work environment has many benefits and, being someone who has worked from home for ten years, I totally agree. However even someone like me, who is used to this way of working, is finding that the lack of face-to-face connection with people and the lack of variety in the physical work environment is starting to wear thin. I’m observing that we need to start thinking about our team performance and maintenance from a more long-term perspective. Both you and your people can’t keep up this pace.

What do you do when motivation and well-being starts to wane? How will this affect your individual and team performance?

A few leaders have raised the strategy of personalised or customised leadership being required more than ever during the pandemic. They said that the leadership required so far has been very personal – there’s been a need to understand the situation of your staff – each one is different and is handling the pandemic differently. Rachel McKenzie, CEO of Berries Australia, summed up perfectly what many leaders have said to me about how they chose to manage their teams over Phase 1 of the pandemic, “I think the people who are getting good things from their staff are those who are considerate and able to see that this is a big, unprecedented circumstance, and that we just let people do the best they can”. For Phase 2 of the pandemic, what strategies might you need to put in place to manage your team’s well-being, performance and motivation over the long haul?

How might they differ to what you are doing now? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Xx Cynthia