There will be no date when things get back to how they were before. There will be no return to what we crudely described as “normality” in all territories of our lives. Coming out of this pandemic will encourage us to finally live more comfortably with how uncertain things really are. It will allow us the opportunity to practice being more present and to go with the flow of unfolding events. Far from “normal,” it will be an adapted world in which we have opportunities to sow new seeds & create more purposeful organizations.
Give team members the space to share their experiences
What will this mean specifically for our working lives? Early on, it will be important to give the cathartic time for all team members to express themselves. Everyone will have a story to tell of adversity during the pandemic. As leaders, we must all try harder to listen. To coach, to understand, and to demonstrate sincere acts of kindness to those who occasionally find themselves in need. All team members’ self-esteem levels will need rebuilding. From a practical standpoint, give more positive feedback. Allow team members to work on things they enjoy and make valuable contributions. This will contribute to an uplifting culture in which everyone has the opportunity to be the best they can be and to fulfill their potential.
Shifting team mindset to one of collective responsibility
The early days will also involve a process in which all team members start with a new mindset. No longer viewing leadership as individual or hierarchical—it will be much more of a distributed and collective responsibility. For organizations to thrive into the future, we will have to shift the design/architecture from the rigid old hierarchy. The new order will see a much more informal and humane setting, with all of us in deeper connection. This process will encourage us to view all team members as leaders and followers at the same time, ready and waiting for specific opportunities to step forward and improve/develop products & services collaboratively. Try to build this mindset into your culture. It will pay dividends in unlocking the collective energy and creativity of the team.
Renewed focus on purpose and meaning
Irrespective of the size and nature of the enterprise, everyone will need much greater clarity on why they are engaged in an activity and how it is contributing to the creation of a better world for all. Knowing that it is helping the organization to make a profit will no longer be enough on its own to sustain the engagement of all team members. Try harder to break down the walls and convince your colleagues to bring more of their “complete selves” to their chosen vocation. Begin to discuss one another’s personal values. All successful organizations have great underlying reasons for existing. Make the sense of purpose and meaning more explicit. Team members need to be reminded more often that we own it collectively.
All of this, of course, will have to be balanced with the need to supply and serve your customers at levels aspiring to excellence and beyond. Now is the time for high quality reflection, dialogue, and the creation of a new and exciting world of work schema (to fit your context). If you need a helpful mantra to keep you on track, use this from James McGregor-Burns:
“Effective leaders are able to lift their followers into their better selves”