There are certain conditions that we consider ideal in order for us to function effectively as leaders, whether we are talking of leading groups or self-leadership.
• Stability …. and now we are in a state of extreme …. Volatility
• certainty .... what we are experiencing now is …. Uncertainty
• simplicity .... as opposed to our current state of …. Complexity
• clarity …. instead at present we face constant …. Ambiguity
- The above describes the external VUCA world we are living in and it is highly unlikely that we can control that. But there are 2 other worlds we should consider while trying to manage the present and at the same time, lead to the future:
- The world of work. Here we can have some control although we are still coping with VUCA conditions. For example, in South Africa, after 5 weeks of level 5 lockdown, in some cases 1/3 of the staff were allowed to return to work this week. We are having to make our work environments safe, catch up on the ‘lost’ weeks, reallocate functions and a myriad of other tasks to get going again. We are uncertain about so many aspects of the present and future.
- The third world can be described as man’s ‘inner man’. Here we have a great deal of control and through working on that during our tough times, we can enhance our ‘way of being’ and prepare ourselves better for the future.
Let me give you some background: During this tough period, globally we have experienced various levels of lockdown. I’m fortunate that I have been able to continue coaching virtually and my clients have shared many coping and future planning strategies with me. From these and my own reflections each day I have drawn up a list of ‘Twelve Lessons in coping while restructuring our new reality’. These are just of few of the many possible tips. Below is an overview and each will be expanded upon in sequential articles.
1. Change your mindset. Think of this period as a transition. It may seem as though nothing is happening. We are physically in lockdown. But picture us, prior to the current tough times, being caterpillars free to crawl around on the branches, eat the green leaves and enjoy the fresh air. Then the caterpillar becomes trapped within the cocoon. (That sounds like ‘lockdown’ doesn’t it!) The larvae are not visible and we can see no activity. Yet a great deal is happening within. After a while the beautiful butterfly emerges. Let’s try to think of this, not as a time of being trapped or stagnation, but rather as a time of metamorphosis and personal growth.
2. Reflect. Reflect. Reflect so that you can convert the sea of implicit knowledge, thoughts, and experiences into something explicit. That way you can crystallise your thoughts, understand the meaning and implement and sustain your actions where it is prudent to do so. A stop/start approach is not most effective at this time although we need to do this to re-adjust to the volatility in the changing world around us.
3. Be in touch with your inner selves. Reflection will help us to do that. We need to consciously embrace mind, body and soul. Are we remembering to exercise and nourish all three domains? Mindfulness and meditation come in here. We can enhance our mental toughness, build our resilience.
4. Manage your physical energy through building, storing and spending wisely. Understand your own energy levels. Research shows that most of us have natural highs, lows and prime times. Plan to do what is most productive for each level during that time of your daily cycle.
5. Structure so that you have a daily routine optimising your energy. Too many pyjama days will most probably not help you to become more productive. Try to develop and test new frameworks. What worked for you yesterday may not be the best for today. Build time-frames – for example, supper at 6pm, computer off at 10pm, asleep by 10:30pm. Have boundaries.
6. Become the ‘go to’ person, a leader in your field and show that expertise. There is so much you can do in order to be the ‘person of choice’, ‘business of choice’, ‘professional of choice’, ‘organisation of choice’, ‘source of choice’ etc. Two people who have done this exceptionally well during these tough times are Gary Eckstein and Mario Redlinghuys and I commend them on establishing themselves further as leaders in their fields during these tough times. They have kept up to date with emerging trends and their clients have benefitted through regular ongoing communication including Zoom sessions.
7. Communicate often. Don’t let perfection get in your way. Don’t wait until your message is perfect. Let people know what is happening timeously. Keep in touch with your business and private connections. Sustain your visibility. Find innovative ways of reminding people of your existence. Practice new ways of ‘showing up’. Check that you are combining head, heart and action in your approaches.
8. Relationships are paramount. How often are you checking how individuals in your network are doing? Use the head-heart-action approach. How can you support others whether from a business or personal perspective? Reach out. There is some-one somewhere who could benefit through your support or your sharing. What are you good at? What might others need? Strengthen existing relationships, build new. Alliances are so important right now. What can you do together?
9. Maintain the best of the past while exploring and testing new approaches. Use the past-present-future approach and practice an attitude of positive discontent. In other words, be on your toes, don’t become complacent. Constantly evaluate saying ‘is this aspect the best it can be’? If the answer is ‘yes’, that applies to this point in time. Things are changing so fast that we need to constantly check to avoid complacency. Test continuous improvement in product, service and the way we operate.
10. Manage the present while leading to the future. A great metaphor is the captain of a submarine. He has to keep the engines running while plotting and changing course. A periscope enables him to explore the external environment, the big picture. What is happening ‘out there’? Have your antennae out.
11. Use your resources to maximum advantage. We have hidden assets. Recognise and optimise opportunities in using resources. For example, one of my clients mentioned how she was starting to plant vegetables in every suitable corner of her garden. I have done the same. Another example is that we can no longer go to gyms, but we can find creative ways of using resources at home.
12. Make use of the wonderful available offers to learn, grow and connect. My free offers are open to all readers but will be allocated on availability.
• This article is an outline to maximise opportunities for your present and future. Further articles will expand on each point.
• A complimentary one-hour Zoom workshop ‘Restructuring your own reality’ based on this article. These sessions are identical but there is a choice of two dates:
o Monday May 18 5pm (South African Standard Time)
o Tuesday May 19 8am (South African Standard Time)
To book, please send me an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org (NB – please use this form of communication)
• A free one-hour individual executive coaching sessions for each of the first five people to e-mail me at email@example.com (NB please e-mail – no other form of communication – and this offer is open to existing and past clients and others who have never been coached by me before)
In summary, I have provided a random selection of only twelve tips. This is not intended as a comprehensive list but as an outline. Further tips will be woven in to the articles that follow.
For more information on Executive Coaching, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.strategy-leadership.com