How Creativity Enhances Your Ability To Lead

I coach leaders of all kinds, with a focus on their own development of themselves. Learning how creativity enhances your ability to lead is an important skill to hone, especially in today’s new work world. Several of my blogs speak to this, particularly February’s on adding self care to your leadership toolkit.   Seeking to add creativity into self care, elevates the benefits in your professional roles as well as within your self personally. 

Creative time can filter into your work life as enhanced problem solving and innovation, visionary thinking, and improved connection with staff.  An added bonus is your own continued career satisfaction and growth!  Both harmonize with how business is changing from the top down model of leadership to this brave new work world we’re navigating.

Forbes echoes this, saying, ‘effective leadership can require inspiration, which is often better evoked through curiosity and imagination rather than pragmatism.’ 

QUALITIES OF A CREATIVE LEADER

So how do you distinguish what makes a creative leader?  When you read the list, I bet you will think of a few people this describes.  Most of them are quite successful — like Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. But you don’t have to be at that level of wealth, notoriety or celebrity. There are many, many creative leaders making differences in their way in all levels of the work world.

  • They are intuitive, passionate, authentic 
  • They are curious, think out of the box
  • They inspire and invite ideas and creativity of their team or in their company
  • They grasp that business models are changing, as is the world
  • They will take risks, and are willing to make mistakes
  • They can see and make connections, and strive for everyone winning
 
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
 

HOW TO ADD CREATIVITY:

While I have suggested breaks for self care through the day, adding in creativity works on a whole different level.  Rather than doing a chore or surfing the net, try some of these:

  • Go to a museum, or an outdoor sculpture garden. 
  • Paint, learn a craft, wood work, fly a kite, do a puzzle – especially if you’ve never done them before.
  • Take your camera out specifically to photograph things for the sake of seeing differently. Do a study on the weeds in your yard, the patterns on your front steps or kitchen floor, spider webs – you name it. Art is everywhere. 
  • Repair or restore something with your own hands.
  • Play music.  Lay on the couch or floor and listen to every note like you did in high school! Dance to it. Sing.
  • Put yourself fully in the moment with grandkids and see the world as newly as they do. Engage fully in their activities with them – finger painting, frosting cupcakes, blowing bubbles, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • Spend time in your local library – preferably in the hidden areas.  National Geographic and Time have gorgeous images to look at and interesting stories to read.
  • You know the coffee table books that are mostly decor? Crack one open, and take the time to enjoy it. 
  • If you’re a hiker, biker, kayaker, or boater, do it wearing “different colored lenses’. Turn your attention from tracking miles, speed or heart rate to truly noticing  the nature around you, how your body feels with each motion.  
  • Break your routines. Try something entirely new. Say yes to things you often say no to, just to see what you learn. Go a different route and explore some new surroundings.
  • Find time for introspection. It really frees your mind and allows creativity to enter!  This could include swinging on a hammock, driving yourself to a park with few people with a picnic lunch, meditating, dancing to some favorite music, or taking a bath 
  • You may want to keep a private journal as you go. Writing something down has a way of setting intentions in your subconscious and you will be amazed at how things manifest. 
  • Educate yourself more on a topic. Read articles, do a workshop, talk to a coach.

Finding Time was my most read blog post, which confirms that it is half the battle as people strive to work new activities into their lives. I recommend reading it, as it offers solid ways to create more time to do what you really want or need to do. Even if you don’t want to add anything new to your current activities, you can achieve creative benefits by simply shifting your perspective while doing what you are doing- arguably a creative act in itself!  I’m suggesting you give a try, even for a month – and preferably a lifetime!

This video by John Spencer helps to define what I mean.

INCORPORATE CREATIVITY AT WORK

After you’ve been doing a few of these things, shift the skill of thinking from a different perspective to your work life. What is an alternate approach to your daily responsibilities and interactions with clients and co-workers? What would be some ways to bring creativity into your work and see how that develops?

  • Can you set new goals using your expanded perspective?
  • Who exhibits creative leadership in the company, your field, or the world?  Observe them, read their articles, books, or biographies. Follow them on social media, watch their interviews or output on youtube, and LEARN. 
  • What situations are opportunities to practice using your intuition instead of only relying on your head, or being led by the bottom line?
  • If you have new ideas, how can you express them constructively with others on your team?
  • What of your work or role requires the most creativity? Can you do that in the hours when you feel the freshest?  

I have written about the paradigm shift that has happened in business, jump started by Covid 2+ years ago. That business model of the future is here. There will be a direct correlation with how much it will thrive based on how you and/or your company embraces and acclimates to it – at a time when interesting the right people to fill roles and being sure they have what they need to deliver their best work is imperative. New roles are being created – ie: remote work schedulers, online meeting trainers, touch-less technologies, take out and pick up or delivery services,  online sales managers, etc… Employee well being, inclusiveness and safety concerns are more top of the list, and as a leader, working creativity into your perspective and reflecting that in your actions will take you where you need to go. 

If you would like support in working through how to utilize creativity in your role as a leader, let’s talk.

Delegate to Empower Yourself, Your Team and Your Company

One of the most important leadership skills is knowing how to delegate to empower yourself, your team and your company. It may seem obvious that delegation helps you -but not all have an easy time doing it. It might get easier if you keep in mind that not only does it free you up, it actually cultivates the growth and trust among your staff and the company reaps the benefits too!

In my work coaching executives and leaders, it’s remarkable how many operating at such high levels aren’t afraid to say how much they are shouldering, how stressful life can be, or how overwhelming the world seems at the moment. This is quite a departure from the days where you would never let them see you sweat…  But it’s no longer the right model for business today. In fact, it can come off as inauthentic.

We’ve all had so much change and complications added to our lives in recent years, and yet –the work still needs to get done. One of the most productive secrets of leadership today is to understand the opportunity in delegation: It’s a way to empower your team, build individual self confidence and effectiveness, and create a culture of trust. All involved win, including the company as a whole if done well.

The DevOps Institute defines delegation as assigning responsibility for outcomes, along with the authority to act to deliver the desired results. They go on to say, “You often hear it’s just quicker if I do it, or that’s not how I do it. This has a name: self-enhancement bias. It’s a classic trap that managers (even experienced ones) sometimes fall into.”

Reframed, delegation can be an opportunity to develop someone, or a team, increase their capabilities in the process, which is in turn a more effective method of support to yourself.

ORGANIZE TASKS

First, know what you need to accomplish and break it down into long and short term tasks. Prioritize by timeline or other criteria. Assess what you can delegate – and if it can be done by an individual, or by teams. 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PERSON

Next, match which task to entrust to the person or people with the proper skill set – or the potential for them.  Who is that person on your team who is eager, or would like to take it to the next level, and could do so with a little support from you?

SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS

Now, assess what will help them (and you) succeed. Is some training needed (and possible in the time frame) in order for them to do it? If you trained them, how could it help not just for this task, but for future ones? Clearly convey expectations on timing and deadlines. Delegating will show them that you trust and believe in them. This goes a long way to raise the esteem of the staff but also the general culture of trust that you can create at work.

People are happiest doing work they feel they can do well, even if they have to stretch to do it. And happy people do the best work. Delegating is a surefire way to develop them, making them more effective, confident and qualified. And lightens your load, to free you up to do more. That’s self care.

I coach the whole person, and that allows you to move to a whole different level in your work, thinking, performance – and it will pay off. What partnerships can you cultivate so you’re not doing it all yourself?Who is a trusted source? If you have concerns about your staff or certain members, lets talk it through so you can empower yourself, your staff and your company.

The Great Resignation… or Reevaluation

The Great Resignation... or Reevaluation

You’ve probably seen ‘The Great Resignation’ splashed across the headlines for the last year. But for you is it the great resignation or reevaluation?

The long pandemic caused lifestyle changes across the board. Health scares, home schooling, limited travel, and the pause from scheduled social and cultural participation got everyone off their personal treadmills.  That created the room to rethink our lives, take a look at what each aspect more closely, especially as it pertains to career. This caused a new title – The Great Reevaluation! 

Since most of us spend 40-60+ hours of our precious waking time working, what we do, with whom, and for what has been a top focus. Some took a leap early and resigned, some are feeling ready to, and others feel unsure how to really assess their choices as the world continues to change.

A Harris Poll done for USA Today reported that one in five people who resigned from their jobs either regret it, or plan to move on from that new role. If that one person describes you, it’s a true opportunity to learn more about yourself before you make the next choice. Or if you resigned but are looking for a new position, or if you are seriously thinking about it while in your current position, how can you be sure to properly evaluate where you are and what’s next?  Let’s look at three questions.

IS IT YOUR POSITION?

While everything in life involves some parts we don’t love, how well matched do you feel by what you do for 8+ hours each day? Is it stimulating, or has it gone flat? Is it challenging or  overwhelming? Does what you do give you a sense of satisfaction?

Next, are you ok with the compensation and benefits package? Are you qualified to make a move to a higher paying position? If not, would a lateral move at a different company mean an advance in pay, a better fit with co- workers or the way you’d work? Would getting more training, taking some classes, or getting a degree help you significantly? If so, can you realistically budget for that in both time and money?

It’s important to look at both your values and experience of the position as well as the money, because just chasing money without the rest will risk that regret instead of a reward.

If you like the people and the company, is there another position within the company you could to transfer to or apply for when there’s an opening?

IS IT YOUR BOSS?

Before you resign, or take a new job, ask: Is your employer the right fit? This is based on way more than just liking them or not. It’s about how they open up or restrict your growth. Do they encourage two-way communication, give you work that is important to you, motivate you to stretch yourself? Is there clarity in assignments, mutual respect or fairness shown to you?  Are you supported in discussing being assigned that’s better matched to your strengths and values?

If you are seeking a new employer, approach interviews like you are exploring them as much as they are you. While it is an employees market right now, the key is to not come off as entitled. This is more of an internal watch for clues. One way is to truly do your research on not just the company and its leaders, but the person you’d be working for. Carefully prepare your interview answers so you can flesh out what you might want to know. It’s common to be asked: what would you like to know or what are you seeking work here for (and you can cover what you hope for in the position with your boss as well).

IS IT THE COMPANY CULTURE?

In this climate, it’s as important to assess if the company’s culture is right for you, even if you work remotely.

Ask yourself: How does your company culture and branding – in terms of diversity, age ranges, top down leadership or group think, work style, philanthropy, reputation for being cutting edge or family and community oriented –fit with your own values? Do you align with the company mission? Do you like the vibe at the company?

And do you feel a connection with the people working with you? This is really important, because we spend so much time with them – sometimes more than with our own friends and family.

After examining these options, you might be fine at your current job, realizing it pays well and provides benefits, and be finding more purpose and play in your personal life. Having gone through all this is likely enough to have answered your questions and I hope, have you showing up at work more settled and happy than before.

If you like the company but are just feeling your work is not satisfying, is there another department or position you could transfer to? If you need to sit tight, consider reframing your mindset. Can it become more enjoyable if you delegate or deal differently with clients or coworkers that drag things down, and focus more on those who create ? If you’re overwhelmed, what can you cancel, or delegate? If  not , should you reach out to your boss for help? Or lighten things up on your personal schedule to recharge to handle work during this time?  What can you shift toward making the day more purposeful?

If this reevaluation makes you feel your boss or company doesn’t fit your values, skill set, or sense of meaning and purpose, it may be time to seek  another position where there is better alignment.

If you’ve determined that you aren’t loving where you are, and want to be more certain of what to look for before you take the leap, reach out to me, and lets’ talk.

Find Opportunity in Transition

Find Opportunity in Transition

Change is happening globally, and that’s changing each of us. But there is a way to find opportunities in transition. 

According to CNN, a record number of people quit their jobs in 2021… 68.9 million of them!  And a whopping 47.4 million of those transitions were voluntary. 

Whether you are thinking of leaving your current position or have already left (by choice or involuntarily), there are things to wade through in the transition. Change is a constant, and we need to address what’s going on inside us in order to move through these times wisely, and make authentic decisions. 

Think about how much we tie our identities to what we do, how many hours of our lives we spend at work and what the money earned or benefits allow us to do. Changes to that can bring up a lot of questions, concerns and emotions. Add a global pandemic, and all the recent news. It’s a call to evolve, and therein lies the opportunity in transition. Let’s take a look at how.

WHAT DRIVES YOU

There’s a trend in meaningfulness now – in work and your life. While we all expect to handle a reasonable level of undesirable tasks, people and situations, it’s begun to not be okay to just tolerate everything for the sake of the job anymore. Now, our drivers are shifting toward needing more purpose and fullness from our work. If this is coming up for you, are you struggling to give yourself permission to want that – or even require it?  

Motivators used to be about getting a better office, working longer hours to be recognized, or dealing with a terrible boss or a sabotaging coworker for a new title or bonus. Now we may ask ourselves very different questions like: how is work helping me be better? Can my strengths really shine here? Can this role help me make a contribution? And if I am to continue where I am, how can what I do at work matter more to me?

The answers are found in your values, how you spend your precious time, and getting clear on your priorities. The need to unpack this paradigm shift has become so prevalent, I’ve covered each in my recent blog posts. Transitions can be empowering but CHANGE is something many are not that comfortable with. Yet change is the only certainty in life. So you have some rich resources here within my blog to start with. 

Let’s look at some of the subtler feelings to address: 

DOUBT 

Whether you lost your job, are transitioning to a new one (or are thinking about it), or want to build a side hustle that could become full time, you may begin to doubt your abilities. Ask yourself if there is any legitimacy to that. Would you need to acquire new skills, and are they within reach? Are you financially able to make the leap?  If you had to move, are you the kind of person who adapts well? What strengths do you have that could carry you? Doubt can present legitimate concerns, and those can be addressed. But when doubt is dancing with your fears, take note. This is where it can really help to talk with someone to gain outside perspective. 

FEAR

Even the most confident person will have deeper thoughts about what they’re doing. “Is it too risky?” “Could I fail?” “What if I lose my health care?”  Depending on your situation, the specifics could be many, but what’s underneath it all is fear.. Addressing those questions are useful, even practical. 

Not leaving what you knew can feel safer as a devil-you-know situation.

But if your desire to leave is greater, trust that. Respect your fears rather than shove them down. They are there to help you – not to paralyze you! Get your fears out of your head and onto paper. Once you see them on a page, they become much more manageable. And it’s easier to see there  are practical ways to address each, one by one. Do this and they shouldn’t keep you up anymore!

GRIEF

Yes grief. It may not be so obvious, but there can be subtle ways grief surfaces. Again, it’s there to be honored, and worked through, because doing so will free you. Ignoring it down will not. If you feel this, you’re not alone;  it’s common when you leave a job. What can help is figuring out whether you identify with your actual occupation or with the organization you work at. If it’s the latter, you may want to see if you can work in a different sector of your company rather than depart.  

REGRET

Another thing that will help you make decisions is a regret test. Picture where you’re at, all you’re feeling and what you’d like to do. Now flash forward to an age you consider to be old. Think of how you’d feel near the end of your time to accomplish things in life if you hadn’t made the change you’re considering. Would you regret it?

Racking focus this way helps eliminate some of the nagging questions and concerns in the present, or will at least put them in perspective. 

COURAGE

Find Opportunity in Transition

All these feelings and concerns give you an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. It actually serves you to be willing to look at them, and then equally realize what strengths, skills and way of thinking you can employ to balance them. Courage is the willingness to do this honestly. 

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to process these when you have someone neutral to talk it through with, who has the training and insight to help with your best interests in mind. 

My work is to partner with you to empower yourself where fears and doubt once were. Contact me and we can talk  about reaping the rewards and wisdom available as you navigate the way forward.

Your Leadership Toolkit: Add Self Care

Zen-art-collage

Today, evidence is pointing to an essential skill ripe to add to your leadership toolkit: self care. Leading is hard work, especially so during these times.  Although often viewed as a luxury, balanced self-care is more important than ever for leaders and managers up to the C-suite for peak performance.

As we enter the third year of a pandemic, some of the early upheaval in the office may have begun to settle. Yet a new constant has become learning how to manage ever-present flux and ongoing uncertainty.  To meet the challenges, leaders focus on performance, and achievement which often require hard work, long hours and grit as a professional necessity. This can have a significant impact on health, well-being and personal lives.

SELF CARE AS AN ESSENTIAL PROFESSIONAL SKILL

Let’s start with debunking some limiting beliefs about self care. Far from being self-indulgent or weak, it has become more mainstream. That means it’s on the minds of  your staff and many of your peers. ‘Between 2019 and 2020, Google Search Trends shows a 250% increase in self-care related searches…Men and women of all age ranges.’

Search data suggests people are moving on from simply exploring the topic to taking action, ie: buying different products, eating differently, and practicing new ways to exercise, recreate and relax.

Forbes Magazine recently tackled the topic, saying, ‘Let’s be clear on what self-care is and what it’s not. Self-care is not selfish, but a necessary lifestyle practice for good health. It isn’t just something you do to recover from illness or crisis, but is also preventive and proactive. It’s a way to value and love yourself, but also demonstrate to others that you care to show up at your best for them, personally and professionally. Consistent self-care practice is what sustains our energy and motivation to keep moving through life successfully, and it is a tool of resilience to help us through the hard times.’

And I agree – besides reaping infinite personal benefits, you will set an example for staff and even clients about bringing your best to the table.

HOW TO ADD SELF CARE

Here are some things to consider:

  1. TIME: We all have the same amount of time in a day, yet some use it better. Though we each have different situations, you can create more time by identifying where you waste it – and instead put that toward things that will actually create more energy, clarity, strength, humor and grounding.  You’ll find guidance on How to Find More Time in January’s Blog.

  2. PRIORITIES: Practicing self care helps you identify what’s important to you. Knowing your priorities can inspire you to let go of your time wasters, or make different choices to replace them with what truly supports and excites you. November’s blog will get you clear on who and what really matters to you.

  3. CHANGE: Self care will help you achieve more. What could you stop, start, or do differently to improve your mental and physical health?  If you were to advise your best friend on this, what would you suggest about self care? Now try that on for yourself.

  4. VISION:  I invite you to take a moment RIGHT NOW to shut your eyes (yes, literally!) and envision yourself eating better, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, having fun and spending fulfilling time with the people who matter most into your life.

ENVISION A LEVELED UP LIFE

If you began to add self care in this way, how different would your life be? How would you feel physically? How would your most important relationships be enhanced? Would your outlook shift for the better?

And how much better would you perform at work?

I rest my case.

Self care is no longer a luxury. You can start anytime and make progress in increments on the road to finding what will work. Even very small changes, employed consistently, can make a tangible difference.

The very fact that you’ve read this means you’ve already begun!

You’ll reap countless rewards from personal self care. Adding it to your leadership toolkit will not only be leading by example, but facilitate your peak performance!

If you would like support in working through how adding self care to your life, and  in your role as a leader, this is what I do best. Reach out and let’s talk.

How to Find More Time

How to find more time has been a bit of a quest for the holy grail of modern life, well before the added challenges we’re facing today. But it is possible to find time. We manage to find a way to meet the new grandbaby, take a dream trip, or book a necessary medical procedure, no matter how busy we are. But how can we apply that day to day?

The last 2 years of the pandemic and all the ways it’s affected our daily lives has really had an impact – so first, we each need to give ourselves a break. The way to get through this is to ground ourselves by creating deeper meaning and order in our own lives. Getting clear on true priorities, based on our values, then making room for them goes a long way in staying centered in the midst of it all. 

If you want help to identify those things, visit both the November and December blogs. 

Either way, how do you find the time to do what you need to?  We all have the same 24 hours to work with. Some manage it well. You can be one of those people. How?

We can make time for what’s important if we stop giving it away to what’s not.

Take a pause here. Let that sink in. 

How To Find More Time

Write down a list of where you misspend your time. Let yourself think on this for a good while, so the less obvious ways will arise. Be really honest here, because it’s this list that will empower you to create a more rewarding life. 

Examples are:

  • Constantly checking emails and texts
  • Meaningless scrolling through Social Media
  • Over-watching TV (rehashed news stories, games or sports)
  • Overdoing anything to excess- shopping, eating, sleeping, cleaning 
  • Doing low priority items as a way of putting off important ones
  • Falling down a rabbit hole on the internet
  • Unnecessary meetings, or poorly run ones
  • Saying ‘yes’ to too much – especially to social “obligations”
  • Lack of priorities or of keeping them top of mind daily
  • Doing for others what they can (and should?) do for themselves
  • Trying to do it all, perfectly

The last two are time killers indeed. 

Create Solutions 

Now that you’ve located some real time wasters, the good news is, you can create your own solutions! 

Make room for a brainstorming session- even if you have to drive to some park bench to get it. Take one item at a time and come up with practical ways to solve the time waster. Take into account both behavior changes and internal drivers – how your thinking may need to shift, and that you may need to inform some people that changes are afoot. This makes it all easier to change.

Improve Work Habits

We kind of fell into our habits with emails, texts and social media… and now they contribute to the countless interruptions to our day. So it is totally accomplishable to walk into new habits to restore some order, focus and productivity. Set times to check email and texts, ie: for the first half hour at your desk, then just before or after lunch, and again an hour before you leave.

Explore your notifications and sounds on all your devices. Set up a special ring for the emergency ones, and learn how to turn all others off so you take the lead, rather than every ping yanking you out of where you need to be. 

Follow by blocking time for uninterrupted work. People will get to know that you don’t answer your phone for personal calls until lunch time (or while driving, or on Sunday mornings for that matter). If you have to, tell the 5 people who expect an immediate response to non-essential texts that you’re shifting how you do things.

Curate Your Consciousness

Become aware of what goes into your head each day – news, music, relatives, clients, bosses and their needs or  problems, plus your own inner commentary on it all. When it all is too much, why not decide to watch only funny movies, or read rom coms instead of the new White House tell all? It’s OK to protect your psyche! 

Scale Down Social Media

A big part of consciousness curation is your social media habits. Is it time to go through your friends list on FB, Twitter, IG, etc and let go of who you don’t really know, or whose been a bit of a drag?  Be thoughtful about it, Maybe you can’t just delete a cousin without issue, but check your privacy settings. You can hide their posts for some time, or make a list of FB of what friends can’t see your posts. 

If you are going to spend some time scrolling each day, you might as well  se and hear things that raise your serotonin, feeds your hope and strength, teaches you something or brings joy. It can still be a sink hole but at least your feed will be positive. 

Go down your list and add at least one solution to each time waster till you complete the list. Don’t expect to shift it all overnight. It took time to make the habits, so give yourself a little time to make new ones. Keep this front and center and keep working at it.  If you see it as the way to spend more time on who and what really matters to you, you will succeed!

As you enter the new year, now is a great time to make meaningful changes. I offer private coaching sessions and can partner with you to help you live your best life.

Let’s Connect and get started!

Thresholds—Leaving Nonprofit Life with Courage and Grace

Leaving nonprofit life with courage and grace requires the proper tools, planning and support. How do you effectively prepare to depart as the leader you’ve always been?

The last 18 months has seen people rethinking what means the most to them and what they are doing with their time. Since the majority of our waking hours is spent on work, it’s among the first to be reviewed.  But for those whom retirement had already been on the horizon, say in the next 1- 5 + years, the pandemic may have provided extra impetus to determine that now is the time to begin the process.

When you consider all that’s involved to leave a fulfilling non-profit life, you may find yourself in confusing waters. How do you sort it all, from getting a clear snapshot of where your staff, board and the organization is, to mapping effective actions in the right timing as you walk toward leaving, to creating a stellar legacy.

Wouldn’t it be invaluable to have an opportunity to share, with a discreet/private, small group of peers, both the joys and anxieties of leaving your work as you walk through an assessment of what’s needed, and work out a plan to leave well?

I co-lead a cohort experience that offers just that, along with Nancy Jackson of EOS Transitions to learn about effective practices to prepare for a legacy well attained, considering the well being of your staff and board.

The experience includes:
• Two-hour virtual sessions over five weeks, for a total of 8-10 hours
• Between-session reading and assignments to amplify the learning and virtual experience
• Confidential participation (Public awareness of your approaching departure is certainly not necessary)
• The Thresholds experience is limited to a cohort of 8-10 peers experiencing the same stage of nonprofit life

The next cohort starts on September 30, but we are planning the next session soon after based on need. Simply contact us and let us know of your interest!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Leaving nonprofit life with courage and grace sets you on the course to what’s next with grounding. Whether you’re planning to travel, spend time with your extended family, volunteer, create a new business, or pursue personal goals and hobbies, you can enjoy it with peace of mind after a successful retirement.

We’ve gotten really wonderful feedback from the executives who we’ve worked with. Why not let that be that also be you!

Read more about the Thresholds cohort experience and feel free to contact us with any questions.

How To Create a Successful Hybrid Workplace

How-To-Create-a-Successful-Hybrid-Workplace

As we approach nearly two years of grappling with a new model for organizations, learning how to create a successful hybrid workplace is crucial. 

As variants continue to arise, it’s become clear: We will never go back to how it was, not only because of ongoing trepidation due to the pandemic but because a whole new generation of workers have grown up adept at life online and don’t have the same expectation of a physical workplace. 

Yet how do you foster strong connections, especially with many new people coming aboard, if you go mostly digital? This is one of the key questions to tackle.

Being separated from each other during the shut down, not being able to see family or attend important events really drove home that human connection is critical to our well being. 

And as more ask themselves why they’re working, and what’s important to do with their time, it’s clear we do need a balance between remote and office work.

The things you and the organization do today will set the course of how work will be done well into the future! Instead of it being daunting, how about it being exciting and fresh — a blank canvas upon which to leave your mark? 

Lay Your Foundation

My focus this summer has been to address the things leaders will need to do. Starting with 5 kinds of courage  as a basis for the adaptive leadership skills needed, we covered that in the new workplace, laying groundwork for staff safety and wellbeing takes the first priority.  Now we’ll sort out the actual nuts and bolts.

Keys to a Successful Hybrid Workplace  

1. Find What Still Works

Sort out what former workflows and systems can be retained through this transition. Let those, for now, form a basis for the new to be built upon.  As you identify needs, keep a list and schedule meetings with Human Resources or the policy makers in your organization to create what’s needed. 

Look at other organizations that have been managing hybrid teams or distance employees successfully and see what may fit for yours. Review expectations for your teams and see what new ones may have to be communicated.

2. Use Lessons from Shut Down

Take advantage of what we learned from the shut down. because continued pandemic surges should be part of the plan near term.  Business can be done remotely and those working at home are more flexible and quite productive. Global connection is much easier, and now enables finding the best people to work with from anywhere in the world. And that’s good because it’s wise to incorporate that new pandemic surges may be part of the plan near term. 

3. Create Hybrid Teams and Schedules

Some employees won’t return, so in addition to what the current team will go through, there will be new people to be found and onboarded. That may not be able to be done in person anymore. Leaders may have to get creative and assist the new staff in connecting to existing team members, now in two locations – home and office.  The Center for Creative Leadership has some excellent specifics about managing hybrid staff inclusion, and their DAC –  direction, alignment and commitment.

Key things to reimagine are how that bonding will take place, how meetings are run to connect people more, and new positions or titles will likely need to be created: For example: Hybrid Schedule Manager

Since it’s the small talk and daily interaction that forges bonds over time, find ways to create those between remote workers. Have a morning check in meeting for 15-20 minutes with remote teams just to chat with coffee. Perhaps an existing team member can moderate water cooler chats (or rotate who sets the topics) with casual social conversation starters like weekend plans, sports, the most recent binge show, holiday anecdotes etc. Soon it will create itself.

As to working meetings, rather than jump into the agenda, allow a few minutes up front for smaller teams to check in to get connection going. Where possible, use break out chats rooms on Zoom to let smaller groups discuss or plan an item, then rejoin the main meeting to contribute. And take a break if you can see a meeting has become unproductive. 

Prepare For The Future 

Help existing or new staff assist you by offering reskilling or upskilling to meet emerging needs. And, your expectations may have changed or be raised – just be sure to share them clearly with your team.

If indeed it’s evident a new position will need to be created, keep a running list of qualities and talents they will need to have as the problems they have to solve crop up. You may need new HR policies and incur new legal needs, which you can plan for.  

While this may seem challenging, remember the positives to a hybrid workforce: 

  • You can hire the right talent, and perhaps a more diverse one, from wherever they live
  • It can be a win/win for those who want to come in and those who prefer to work remotely
  • You may have a happier, healthier, more productive team than ever before
  • That can help you achieve whatever comes  

And don’t forget – everyone is in the same situation. This is completely new territory and there is no map — but the courage, skills and basics I’ve offered will give you a good start. Since the shift is away from leaders knowing it all, to co-creating this with workers, my goal was to furnish you with what you’d need to set out on this new path. The companies who manage to do this successfully will benefit by not just survival, but by leading the pack. And that will attract the best candidates to fill newly created or vacated positions. A satisfying situation for all. 

While I endeavor to give you these tools, leaders also need their own support. I’m here to provide that to you. Reach out, even for an exploratory conversation, and let me help you not just survive but thrive.

Transition Skills in the Workplace- How Do I Lead Now?

Leadership-In-The-workplace-How-Do-I-Lead-Now

There’s a lot of talk about transition skills in the workplace. How do I lead now is a question many are asking themselves. Covid isn’t exactly over, but businesses across the US are opening up. One thing is clear: There is no return to the workplace of the past. It’s a whole new frontier. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity to create something better. 

2020 showed us how marvelously adaptable we can be. Practically overnight, life as we knew it flew up in the air… then landed piece by piece, reconfiguring a new reality and ways of doing things. While the pandemic lessened the need for certain products and services, it created demand for others. Many who found themselves needing work took what was available, learning new skills on the fly. Others re-skilled themselves while in lockdown, anticipating shifts in the workplace. Some found they could continue and even grow in their field, no longer limited by location due to the entire globe operating online. 

Similarly, being effective at refining organizational culture for a hybrid workforce is requiring leaders to evolve their mindset and use – or develop – different skills. 

HOW DO I LEAD NOW?

An umbrella term for innovative thinking, Adaptive Leadership guides leaders to work with people on problems that can’t be resolved the traditional way.  A well-known model  based on the work of Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, it creates a shift from everyone relying on you for the answers to you co-creating with teams and individuals, guiding them to come up with their own.

Engaging staff and listening with empathy is crucial to the process of navigating through transition. But what skills and methods will you need?

MAKE WELL BEING A PRIORITY

Well-being was a rising trend before Covid, but coming out of this last year’s prolonged anxiety, burnout, and grief, managing it now tops the list for a successful workplace. Forbes.com offers,“…we will need much more depth in social and emotional skills.” Here are some things you can incorporate:

  • SAFETY FIRST

Safety is a top concern in returning to work, and one of the easier problems to solve.  Discuss and survey what safety practices are most important to your staff . Find where their greatest concerns lie. From there, form safety standards and practices and immediately invest in whatever is needed — from plexiglass to disinfectant and cleaning supplies, to a mask policy. Letting them know what the new standards are will go a long way in those returning to feel protected and valued. If this isn’t done first, it will be at a price to the organization – from managing stressed out, less productive employees to losing them. 

  • MENTAL/PHYSICAL HEALTH

Due to continuing uncertainty, there are a lot of wide-ranging concerns around the return to work. Because so many really benefited from working at home, or are happy to get back to the office but in lockdown learned how valuable a work-life balance is, mental and physical health is undeniably top of mind for all. While HR is largely responsible for well being support, there is a lot you can do as a leader.

Arrange for HR come in to present about resources and opportunities for connection. 

MODEL SELF CARE

Keep reasonable hours at the office, make time during work to eat healthfully, use a standing or walking desk, take short breaks, get fresh air, put fresh flowers or photos on your desk, etc.

Inspire good boundaries, especially for those who work at home. Don’t call them before or after business hours or on weekends unless it’s an emergency, encourage them to take vacation days, and approve time for their healthcare visits.  

OPEN UP COMMUNICATION

Find new ways to keep the lines of communication open ie: scheduling one-on-one conversations in your office, creating workshops around it, and setting up a private suggestion portal. Check in regularly with remote workers to prevent them feeling out of the loop, and encourage personal check ins the first 10+ minutes of online meetings to sustain camaraderie. Start with a clear invitation for a two-way conversation, then be a receptive, active listener. Truly hearing your workforce is critical to holding on to them, for they will play a significant role in the next steps for the organization.  

  • EMPATHIZE

People have been through a LOT – but you have too!  That commonality lays groundwork for an authentic connection which can inspire trust and loyalty. Having employees help create what’s next rather than top down directives will invest them in the transition’s success and show in their best work. 

  • BE FRANK

Your team will respond better in uncertain times to what is known and unknown, even if it isn’t great news, because they sense the truth of it.  If they are informed about where things are really at, they can invent and employ far more effective solutions.  

Keep up consistent, clear communication, including expectations as they evolve. This is a very important skill to shepherd people through uncertain times which gives them what they need to be reliable and committed as things become more certain.

COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

The key to great leadership is courage. Apply your brand of courage to the challenge of building a hybrid culture based on the well being of the workforce and the values of the company and.

Rather than ramping straight up to what was, put people first and co-create what’s next with them. This is the ticket to hang on to the most valued talent while being very attractive to the best candidates to fill new positions.  

Next month I will be covering how to manage hybrid schedules and teams. Don’t miss it!  Better yet, please sign up for my monthly newsletter to get each month’s blog, inspiration and uplifting resources straight to your inbox. 

The Key to Great Leadership Is Courage

Superhero Team with Capes Graphic

The key to great leadership is courage, especially now, in these times of uncertainty and change.  

When you think of having courage – what’s the first image that comes to mind? A superhero in the power stance, cape flowing? A mother fighting for her child’s welfare? A person putting themselves at risk to save someone else? How about facing an employee — or a board — to navigate a difficult issue… or truly listening when your team’s opinions are different than yours? They all require courage. Because courage comes in many shapes and forms. 

The pandemic has advanced this to a whole new level. It led to creating new practices and policy on the fly, new needs to work around like childcare, health care and a host of distractions and emotions. 

Now more than ever, courage is needed in leadership. Let’s look at five specific kinds of that courage. 

1. Leadership Courage

There are business goals, deadlines and budgets to meet, using daily processes and systems, while striving for exceptional client and market communications. Add that those have to be accomplished while managing people’s new needs, losing some to layoffs or FOMO, handling unexpected losses (or profits) that are way off projections, almost all of it juggled via a virtual environment. Leadership courage is navigating those waters while communicating clear expectations, trusting enough to delegate, holding people accountable, and working with any performance issues so they can rise to their potential. It also means letting someone go (even if they are brilliant) because it’s mucking with company culture. Courage is doing what is right for business, morale and harmony, even if it may be tough to do.

2. Social Courage 

This is about what you uniquely bring to the table, being brave enough to understand the power of your authentic voice, and knowing when to express it – and when not to.   What you have to offer may be a risk to put out there but the upside is it could be a game changer! Social courage is not just being bold, but the art of knowing when and how to go there. Done with a mixture of confidence and openness to feedback, the value you bring will stand out. 

3. Intellectual Courage

There is a lot of reward in this brand of courage, which presents as being open minded to others ideas, as well as thinking ourselves out of our own boxes. Here we step out of our comfort zone, healthfully question, work with others, and even become willing to blunder in service of solutions!  It can be tough to do when there is such pressure to be the hero or always right, but the truly heroic path is open discourse for the greater good, regardless of differences. Intellectual courage wins respect and creates trust and safety. 

4. Moral Courage

Your integrity is the fuel for this kind of courage. It’s about the ability to do what’s right, even when it may produce pushback or judgement.  To say what you mean, and more importantly, act on what you know in your gut is gratifying and lights the way for others to do the same. The world needs it now too. If your work aligns with your inner compass, values and ethics, you will have a true and fulfilling sense of purpose which serves the highest and best of all involved. Win/win. 

5. Emotional Courage

This year has honed our emotional courage, even if we didn’t realize it. Overnight we were forced to tolerate total upheaval and the unknown — and take the next steps anyway, no matter what we may be feeling. Those emotions are utilized as we go. We need this courage because the landscape of our lives, especially at work, are not returning to what it was. It takes courage to adopt new practices, sort and make the best of the feelings it brings up and dive back in.  Even if you put everything into it and experience some failures or end up with a different outcome than you had planned, you have not lost — you have led by example. 

The key to great leadership is courage

When leaders make a conscious effort to identify which types of courage they are good at and which they need to build, they not only grow more at ease and empowered in their role but become an invaluable contributor to every individual, team, client and company they interact with.  

As you read over these types of courage ask yourself: Which do I already do well? What stood out to polish as I strive to lead others? 

Once you find what you resonate with, it’s about how you’ll step up. If you want to discuss these forms of courage, or working with them to make your leadership shine, I am more than happy to help. Let’s connect! 

Becoming aware of these kinds of courage will create a shift in your perspective. You may find yourself operating a little (or a lot) differently with both challenges and people. The benefits you will see in time will confirm that you indeed have that essential courage.

And you won’t even need a cape!