Never has Leadership been as important as it is today. This new environment is forcing companies to reexamine who they are, what they are about, how they must adapt, adjust and realign their business to this new business landscape they are facing.
For many their business terrain is not stable. What “was” is now having to be looked at with a different set of filters. How things were done are now having to be viewed through the eyes of yesterday. What is “now” is not what was; what worked yesterday must now be reexamined as to whether this new business landscape will support the pathway of yesterday.
This is creating a big challenge for many who have the responsibility of leadership. This new abnormal has turned their comfortable routine upside down. The economy was moving, business was happening, and it didn’t take a lot of energy to be successful. THEN, out of nowhere came a little micro-organism, and its appearance turned the world of business on its head.
The office became a silent space where desk, that were once filled with people, now sits empty. In-person meetings have become virtual gatherings. The energy that filled the offices and halls is no longer present. This new business environment has left many Leaders scratching their head and seeking to figure out what tomorrow’s Leader is going to look like.
As one of the business owners I work with said, “I am not comfortable with this new order we are facing today. I am a Leader who likes to stand in the presence of my people, feel their presence and hear the noise of work. Today, I find myself working with my people via the Internet. I am really tired of all these Zoom meetings. Yes, we can talk, but there is a disconnect. It’s like we are present through the computer, but not together as a team.”
He is not the only Leader who has expressed this feeling to me. This new virtual office has left many Leaders feeling disconnected, frustrated, finding it hard to adjust to what is now.
Another owner, who is a client, said, “I am really good at standing in front of my people and pouring energy into them. I am not sure how to do this with this virtual office set-up. I don’t feel connected to them. I don’t feel I am touching their soul and keeping them together as a team. I’ve got to figure out what to do!”
Leadership must have a different face today. Leaders must adapt their Leadership style to the world of the virtual company. What “was” is now becoming the yesterday that is not coming back with the same business look. What “was” is what “was,” not “what is.”
Leadership must have a different mindset when it comes to change. What “was” is now demanding adjustments most leaders were and are not prepared to make. When change comes in doses, there is time to gradually make adjustments. But when change barges in without any notice, without any time to adequately prepare, it takes the familiar and turns it into an unknown filled with uncertainty, which frightens and paralyses the unprepared.
Adjustments cannot be a “guess!” They must be a well thought out plan with an understood purpose. Adapting says, “What we must do now.” Adjusting says, “How are we going to make this happen.” The Adjustments must support the “what” with the “how.”
Leadership must have a different connection with their people. The people must understand the need to adapt. They must see and support the adjustments that have to be made. To achieve this new design the Leader must know how to align their people around all this change that has raced in, not walked in. Alignment must have the people connected through a common agenda they agree to and are committed to achieving.
People are the key; adapting must be the new virtual design. Adjusting must be the process that keeps the focus on continuing to do business in a productive manner. Aligning is the glue that doesn’t allow the company to become filled with singular pronouns! The “us” and the “we” must keep the eyes of the people focused on a common purpose, a common agenda and a common commitment that creates the strength of together, while separated.
It is the responsibility of the Leader to keep the purpose, the agenda, the commitment, the spirit of “we are still together” directing the work flow.
The Leader must provide Leadership! Their presence must provide strength for their people, send a message of support during these times and keep their people working together. There are 6 Leadership Tips For Leading In This Virtual Environment I want to share with you.
Working from home is challenging for most people. There are interruptions they didn’t face at the office. This means the attention span and the focus are going to face interruptions they normally don’t face. Listen through understanding the home environment. Slow your communication pace down and listen to what isn’t being said about working from the home office.
Motivation takes the right environment to achieve. The home environment has a different type of energy from the office. It can become very challenging to stay focused when distractions are happening. The need is for the Leader to encourage with positive understanding to what is happening. Understand the pressures that working from home create. Identify with the challenges and become an encourager, not a motivator.
In the office environment people are used to moving at a faster pace. At home the environment can become very scattered. Being scattered shortens the listening span. “More” can become paralyzing. As the Leader, understand the need to adjust how much you bring to people’s plate. What was once a large plate is now a little saucer that can’t hold as much. Slow down; understand the difference between the pace of an office and the pace of the home.
In the virtual world time has a different meaning. At home it is easy to look around and find something that needs your attention. It is easy for others to just come in and steal your time, while you are seeking to get work done. If a decision needs to be made, the Leader must become a “now” decision maker. When the Leader hesitates making a decision that needs to be made, they cause confusion about what the real agenda and priority is.
The virtual meeting must have an agenda that is given out before the meeting begins, and that agenda must be followed. The virtual meeting must have a time commitment. Time doesn’t mean the same thing at home as it does at the office. There should not be “meetings” for the sake of having a “meeting.” Purpose and agenda must be the focus. The new meaning of time and working from home must be understood.
Don’t forget – the home office is not the office “office.” The home office is a space mostly without boundaries. It is a new definition of what an office looks like! Yes, there may be rules in place, but that doesn’t mean the rules are going to be followed by those who are part of the home. The Leader must be patient, be understanding and be clear on the priority of the work flow.
As a Leader, understand this new business environment isn’t what “was,” but it is what “is.” Slow down, look at the business world you are now leading and provide your Leadership with a new understanding of what “is,” not what “has been.” Be willing, as the Leader, to adapt, make adjustments and align this new “now” to this new abnormal.
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The Flint Team