We are quickly approaching one year since our first lockdown. And according to news earlier this week, Dr. Theresa Tam is thinking tough restrictions remain ahead, at least until the end of the summer.
How, as leaders, do we keep this up? Many had hoped that the turning of the calendar would have literally turned the tides of the pandemic, and while in a broad sense that may turn out to be true, we still have a long way to go, and many are fatigued.
Here are 3 actionable thoughts for leaders that may be helpful to keep your team engaged and hopeful.
1. Deliberately take stock of what is going well.
Take some time to step back as a team and think about the last year, all that you have been through and throw some sun on what you got right. Our brains are hardwired to look for the problems ahead of us … short-circuit this by brainstorming what has gone well and where the team has succeeded. It not only short-circuits our tendency for negative thinking, it brings these positive things forward so we don’t forget to keep doing them.
Action: Book some time with your team to jointly brainstorm and recognize the positives of the past year … and what to keep doing!
2. Highlight core values and bigger goals.
It’s all too easy to get lost in the day-to-day and for this pandemic to feel a bit like Bill Murray’s experiences in the 1993 film Groundhog Day (the same day repeating over, and over, and over again). As in the film, there is a human desire within this repetitiveness and isolation, to be connected to something bigger. As leaders, I encourage you to find opportunities to get people out of the day to day and reconnect with why your team or organization exists.
Action: Find ways during March to remind your team of the larger purpose or the core values for which you stand. In purpose-lead organizations don’t take it for granted that everybody has this front of mind. Where these links are not as easy to see, make a concerted effort to make them visible.
3. Focus on today, while holding faith for the future.
Remember the Stockdale paradox popularized in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great? James Stockdale, while a POW during the Vietnam war, directly faced the facts of his brutal reality while holding an undying belief that he would prevail … for close to 8 years of captivity. He remained optimistic for the long-run, while never putting false dates or expectations on things beyond his control. He focused on surviving the current situation no matter how long it lasted. The lesson from a business or a personal perspective is to readily face our current realities while keeping the faith that some day things will turn for the better and we will thrive again.
Action: Plan through 2021 for the possible reality of a third wave. Don’t put off what needs to be done today in the hopes of soon-to-be experienced better days. Hold optimism while addressing our continued reality.
Finally, take some time to apply each of these to yourself and your own health.
• What have you knocked out of the park in the past year?
• How are you ensuring you are staying connected to what matters most in your life?
• What have you planned over the next 6 months to recharge your batteries?