Ten years from now, we will look back at the year 2020 and remember many things…most of which have changed the world we live in and our future. It is safe to say that the world we knew over the previous 5-10 years is long gone, and the term “New Normal” has become commonplace in our daily conversations and interactions. The most successful companies, individuals, and teams will be the ones who adapt quickest to this new environment and gain inspiration from creating this New Normal.
As a leader, you must also adapt to this New Normal approach. More than likely, you have to lead your teams remotely. You are having to manage individuals who are struggling with keeping their households intact, whether it being balancing remote learning for their children or keeping them engaged as extra-curricular activities slowly ramp back up. School administrators are facing significant challenges with creating a safe environment and rewarding curriculum for their students, our children, and the strain on a work from home parent to help support the teachers will continue to grow in the next 12 months. Depression and anxiety statistics are also increasing with teens, young adults, and individuals without children or living alone as the ability to socialize with others safely has been compromised with COVID-19. Balancing the challenges of being a leader within your home while trying to change and succeed in a new work environment is a difficult task for everyone. Our lives will never return to the way they were before 2020. How you evolve and adapt will determine your success and happiness, both personally and professionally.
During my conversations with leaders over the last couple of months, I feel there are five fundamental principles that New Normal Leaders must embody to lead their teams in the coming months successfully:
- Understand Priorities: I tell people who I work with that I expect work to be the third priority in their life, behind their family and their faith. There will be times that business will require an individual to highlight work ahead of these first two priorities. Still, an employee’s personal situation has a significant influence on both the quantity and quality of their work. Make sure you are asking questions of your team of how they are spending time outside of work. When they are on vacation or taking time off, respect that time away and do everything possible not to engage them. Before they take time off, have a quick call asking them what you can do to help them while they are away, and take that work off their plate. Get to know what gets them out of bed in the morning, and talk to your team members about motivating factors outside of work that interests them.
- The Success of The Team Is More Important Than The Success of the Leader: I was talking with a friend of mine recently who joined a sales team where there was a new manager. The team was told that they would receive leads from the manager and that there would be a sharing of accounts. Within one year, my friend had received one lead from their manager, which was considered a minor transaction. The manager had kept all of the good leads and customers for himself and his commissions. My friend is already looking for another job. The best leaders hire employees with clear guidelines on what the job entails and ensures the success of their team members, which in turn creates a high performing unit. Understand each team member’s strengths and celebrate them. Discuss their development areas honestly. In a virtual world, your employees must feel valued, respected, and relevant, or they will soon be looking for another job. If you are more concerned with your individual performance than team performance, maybe leadership is not for you.
- The New Normal Requires Humility: Everything good in leadership begins with humility! We have all been humbled by the events in our communities over the last seven months. Great leaders are humble. They are willing to serve their teams without authority or ego. When things go well, they point out the contributions of their team. When things go wrong, they humbly admit their mistakes and take responsibility. Humble leaders understand that trust – earning it, giving it, and building it- is the foundation of great leadership. They treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position, role, or title.
- Great Leaders Display Gratitude: Great leaders take every chance to show how thankful they are. They understand that the team’s performance creates success. Gratitude and appreciation travel a long way in successful companies. Effective leaders take the time to specifically recognize a minimum of one person per day through an email, phone call, text message, hand-written letter, or social media post. I was recently on a call, and a new manager recognized her team for a project well done. In announcing to the company the great work that was accomplished, the manager stated, “There are so many people to thank, I cannot mention them all here,” and did not mention anyone. When you publicly state you cannot mention everyone and don’t mention anyone, you have missed an excellent opportunity to display specific and genuine gratitude.
- Purpose & Process Driven and Outcomes Aware: This is a concept that I have tried to follow for years. In a virtual working environment, this model is more important than ever. If your team understands their purpose and creates a process to deliver on that shared purpose, a positive outcome will typically follow. A virtual organization in the New Normal also should have limited exceptions to the process. The challenges I have faced over the last couple of months have typically been attributed to either me or someone else going outside of a created process. And never assume that your purpose is always understood. Every presentation I deliver starts with our company’s purpose in how our product improves the lives of our customers. Remember that developmental coaches and leaders help people find their own answers. Treating people as tools by giving them answers and expecting them to follow your way is becoming an outdated way of leading others.
Influential leaders challenge their teams without making their jobs more complicated. Being agile and nimble with your New Normal development can also develop an innovative and enhanced leader for your teams. I hope this note finds each of you staying healthy and safe, and that no matter how big the challenge you are facing, your comeback will be stronger than the setback!!!
Well Done > Well Said