Okay, I admit it. I’m a volleyball geek. I’ve played volleyball my entire adult life. I love the game, the athleticism, and the strategy. And of course, for the last week I’ve been glued to the television set, watching volleyball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
So, if you don’t know the guy in the photo – that’s Karch Kiraly. Karch was a member of the men’s U.S. National Volleyball Team that won gold at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. He then went on to win a gold medal when sand volleyball was first introduced as an Olympics sport in 1996. And today? He’s the head coach of the United States women’s National Volleyball team. So yes, he’s a volleyball rockstar!
The U.S. women’s team has been the hands-down favorite to win gold in Tokyo. And as of this morning, that “automatic win” is in doubt. Two of the U.S. team’s top offensive players have gone down with severally sprained ankles.
Well, Karch prepared the team for that. Not necessarily for THIS specific problem… But for any problem. You see, Karch Kiraly knows that %$@*& is going to happen. It always does. And that concentrating on trying to keep %$@*& from happening is futile. It’s a waste of excellence. So Karch teaches his athletes how to shift perspectives. Instead of concentrating on what’s wrong, he teaches them to go into problem solving mode.
It starts with curiosity: “What could we do to overcome this adversity?” Notice the breadth of this question. The team is not looking for one perfect answer. They are looking for a series of small answers. Small things that EACH INDIVDUAL can do, that when ADDED TOGETHER have a BIG impact.
Now, it’s about experimentation. More than likely, there are still a lot of side outs left in the game. That means they don’t have to do things perfectly the first time. They can try on those small solutions, experiment, and learn. What’s working? What’s not working? What else could we do?
The final piece of the pie is about embracing the experience. Win, lose, or draw – there is a great story in there. And the journey itself is worth remembering. The journey builds skill sets for tomorrow. The journey develops resiliency. And the journey can intensify our confidence.
I don’t know if Karch and his team can problem solve their way to a gold medal. What I do know is that when we shift our thinking from what’s wrong (and all of the negative emotions around it) to problem solving – we take control of our lives. We’re not bemoaning our bad luck or complaining about our circumstances. We’re tackling the issue. We’re embracing the adversity. We’re purposefully setting our minds on what we CAN DO to solve the problem. And as we take these steps – we’re actually moving forward – towards the win.
Last night I met with a bunch of executives & we had an interesting conversation about bringing people back into the office. I actually loved the dialogue. We talked about people who gamed the system during COVID. We agreed that the majority of our staff worked very hard and proved that they could be trusted to work from home. We also discussed how many employees didn't have a choice. They HAD to leave their homes, go into work & take care of their customers, face-to-face, every day for the last 16 months.
So NOW what? Honestly, the group was divided. Do we need to work in the same space? Do we have to set a deadline for staff to return to the office? Should we have a policy? My own opinion? I don't think there is an easy or one size fits all answer. And maybe that's the real issue.
The easy thing to do is to decide on a policy & have everyone align. That's what many companies are doing. "On this date, everyone will return to the office a minimum of 4 days a week. Oh, & be sure to reserve your desk ahead of time. There are not enough desks for everyone."
Maybe there is a better way...
Let's start here: Do you know who your performers are? I'm betting you do. These are the people you can count on, the individuals that get things done. These are the employees that you don't worry about where they are or what they are doing. Why? Because historically they have taken care of business. They have earned your trust. If that's true -- AND IF these individuals have jobs that allow for flexibility -- why wouldn't we let THEM determine where or when they work... inside of some basic parameters. For instance: With freedom comes responsibility and employee who elect to work from home are also expected to:
Attend regularly scheduled department meetings, customer-facing meetings, ideal generation, and decision-making meetings where full participation is needed
Make themselves available when requested
Maintain relationships with their peers
Expand their internal network
Make work results a priority
Attend business social functions
Next question: Do you know who your slackers are? I bet you do! Your slackers -- well, they HAVE NOT earned the privilege of flexibility. AND, until they do -- they are required to work in the office -- all day, every day. (Ouch. That would change MY behavior pretty quickly.)
Truly, I do think there is a way to have your cake & eat it too... There ARE reasons for being together. As an organization, we need to identify these situations & tell folks they must be there. Attendance is required. There ARE also reasons to work from home. If an employee has demonstrated that they can meet organizational standards -- regardless of where they are working -- then give these folks flexibility and trust that they will continue to get their work done! If you are unwilling to differentiate between performers and slackers you may end up perpetuating the #BigShift#greatresignation
Today I facilitated a virtual town hall around current events. We discussed COVID-19, job and financial insecurity, political divisiveness, racial injustice and civil unrest — and how it is impacting each of us.
We then had the opportunity to talk about how we can take care of our emotional and mental health. Of the many suggestions the group identified — three ideas rose to the top:
1. Lean on your network. Ask for help. Accept help.
2. Reach out. Support others. Give back. It’s amazing what happens when you stop thinking about yourself and concentrate on others.
3. Look for what’s right. Sometimes the biggest gifts come from the darkest times.
One of the biggest gifts of the great disruption is that leaders are naturally embracing Psychological Safety. They are leading with relationship and empathy instead of task and results.
And that shift makes all the difference in the world!
When we lead with humanity -- we communicate that we care about our people. We put them first. And then something really interesting happens.
Trust is established and our teams respond in kind.
I haven't heard much about slackers and whiners during Covid-19. I HAVE HEARD about the amazing employees who have stepped in, stepped up and have done great work under the most difficult circumstances. Everything from:
-- at home...
-- with young children...
-- that need to be supervised and/or educated...
Some people may say that Covid-19 "forced" us to shift our paradigm. I actually have a different opinion. I believe most of us did what comes naturally when we're thrown into very difficult circumstances...
We responded with kindness and concern.
The gift -- if we choose to embrace it -- is to recognize that if we CONTINUE to lead with relationship, empathy and psychological safety our teams will CONTINUE to rise and meet us.
And if we don't... If we revert to business first... We will destroy the trust that's been established. Our employees will feel like it was all just an act -- simply a ploy to get them to work harder. And then we'll experience the boomerang effect... In the blink of an eye we'll move from trusting one another to skepticism to disdain.
Are you going to intentionally continue to put relationship, empathy and psychological safety first. Or are you unintentionally going to revert back to business as usual?
#21stcenturyleadership #psychologicalsafety #leadership #burnout
So why does change seem easier right now? I have a couple of ideas...
There are a ton of leadership lessons in this real world laboratory. What have you observed?
Last week #PasterMike at #LutheranChurchofHope preached a GREAT sermon and I learned something new...
On Palm Sunday the people of Jerusalem crowded into the streets to see Jesus and shouted "Hosanna."
Hosanna literally means "save us." And I think that's what a lot of us have been thinking and feeling.
We're looking for something to save us from this pandemic. I know I am.
Today is Good Friday. And if you don't know -- Good Friday is the day that Christ was crucified and died. And just like on Good Friday -- this pandemic feels like things are just getting worse. And that might be true...
You see, that's the promise of this season. Easter is coming!
Easter, the most important Christian holiday, represents the day Christ rose from the dead. The Easter story doesn't end in despair and misery -- it paves the way for hope and salvation. And that's what we need to remember in the midst of this pandemic.
Easter is coming!
So consider this: The Easter for COVID-19 may not be THIS Sunday. There will however, BE a Sunday when we will be able to rise beyond COVID-19.
The Companies that I am Working with Fall into 1 of 2 Camps.
Camp One is hunkering down -- waiting for the worst to past -- looking for the day when they will have the opportunity to bring their teams back to work.
Camp Two has seen an increased their workload -- and they have had to respond to increased demand while spending a crazy amount of time figuring out how to ensure the health and safety of their employees, vendors and customers.
My guess -- is that you and your organization fall into one of these 2 camps as well.
So what's next?
A post-pandemic world that will look very different than March 2020.
And no matter your circumstances now -- there will come a time when all of us will need to starting thinking about how the world of work has changed and what we need to do as leaders to adjust.
Might I suggest that we have the opportunity to become better leaders and better organizations -- BECAUSE of this pandemic?
What are the leadership lessons that YOU'RE learning?
This week I've facilitated my first virtual classes.
To be honest -- I have always shied away from the virtual/webinar world for 2 reasons...
I spend a lot of time creating a safe space in the classroom so that together we can tell our truths and find solutions that will work. And I just didn't know how to do that if people were not face-to-face with one another.
And then comes the pandemic...
So I'm not the kind of person who is just going to check out and wait for the world to get back to normal. We're never going to GO BACK to normal. We're going to have a new normal. So I know I HAVE to figure it out...
And Zoom becomes a new tool for me!
So what is the most interesting thing I have I learned in 4 days of virtual facilitation? Humanity is easily inserted in a virtual world. This week not only have I met Program Managers, Technical Assistants and Vice Presidents. I've also met Moms, Dads, Neighbors and Kids...
Even Kids with Fur.
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