To keep their employees safe, organizations have moved to mandatory ‘virtual’ and ‘work from home’ activities at an unprecedented pace. This time has challenged the connection and resilience of leaders and their teams. Here are some actions you can take in response:
What: Support your own and your team’s resilience by stepping up to the moment
Why do it:
Resilience is the process of adapting well (or as well as possible) in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Resilience is not (as many people believe) the absence of stress or a ‘natural talent’; it involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone to overcome just about anything.
Now more than ever, leaders must engage authentically and realistically with the challenges that they, their team, and their clients/customers face at this current moment. Resilient leaders manage their uncertainty and concerns to present a calm yet responsive presence that avoids extreme ‘all or nothing’ thinking. They take responsibility for being as situationally aware as possible and converting the anxious energy they may feel into concrete actions that are aligned with their values.
What: As the physical distance grows, deepen your relationships with team members and clients to maintain connection and motivation
Why do it:
Study after study has demonstrated that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships. Further, feeling connected to others (relatedness) is one of the three core elements of intrinsic motivation for all humans.
One of the bright sides of very challenging times is the opportunity to build far deeper relationships with others, especially team members, colleagues, and clients/customers. Be willing to move beyond your typical business transactions and encourage them to be open with you about their fears, challenges, and needs as humans. Not only is it the most personally appropriate response to an unprecedented challenge, but it is also an incredible opportunity to deepen your relationship with them and engender true connection and loyalty.
For team members, the physical distance created by mandatory virtual work is a real threat to both resilience and motivation; it’s up to leaders to prevent this damaging outcome. It will take intention and effort (and far greater communication than when you are co-located) to ensure that crucial affinity distance isn’t negatively impacted by a rapid change in your team’s geographic location. Your role as a leader is to reinforce the fact that team members depend on each other to accomplish a larger goal, no matter where they are physically located. Furthermore, by taking the time to personally check in with your team members, you are demonstrating care and support and mutually building individual resilience in yourself and your team.
Your clients/customers may also feel greater ‘affinity’ distance from you unless you are intentional about checking in with them regarding their well-being. We are past ‘business as usual’ and they are doing their best to cope too; you can be an incredibly valuable ally and resource for your clients/customers by purposefully reaching out and finding ways to support them during this difficult time, including actions that might be out of the scope of your normal business relationship.