Leadership Lessons from the Pandemic

This past year has been an eye-opening experience for everyone.  No one I know is the same, and there have been a lot of lessons learned.

These are just a few that stand out to me. 

Difficult decisions had to be made. Of course, leadership is always full of difficult decisions, but these were some of the hardest in your career because of the uncertainty of the moment and the impact on so many lives. 

This leads to it was not personal; it was business. We saw leaders in anguish, trying their best to figure out the magic combination of balance sheets, furloughs, and inevitably in many cases, layoffs. 

Everyone sacrificed.  Our front-line workers gave and gave beyond what was humanly possible.  Many professionals worked more hours than ever and faced situations that, at moments, seemed impossible.  On the other hand, many feel guilty because they were not there to help with the solutions due to being furloughed. As a reminder, it was not your choice, and if you need to remind your peers of that - please do.  Sitting and home without a paycheck was your sacrifice for the bigger picture, and facing the uncertainty every day was just as hard as going to work.

As you move forward this year, never forget.

There is always another way.  We watched leaders and teams pivot, innovate and get scrappy because the situation demanded it. So next time, before you say you can't, remember everything you did these past eighteen months and give it one more try. 

Job Descriptions are not set in stone. Those who were successful never said, "that's not my job." In fact, no one said it for twelve months. The teamwork was incredible, and everyone moved outside of their comfort zones and tried new things.

Something you give 200% to could be gone tomorrow. So, spend your time wisely, and prioritize the ones you love instead of the work you love.

Networking is never a waste of time. It is the regret that I have heard repeatedly from executives who have found themselves looking for a new job.  The conversation is always the same; they talked about how they got busy; they did not prioritize their connections. Now they felt guilty reaching out to others asking for help. Just in case you don't know where you will find the time, consider this: "the U.S. Bureau of labor and statistics concluded that 85% of jobs are filled by networking," as noted by B2C. Don't ever neglect your network again. Make it part of your professional weekly to-do list.

People are good. Don't hesitate to reach out for help. Who can work the hardest is no longer a contest. Collaboration is the new career maker.  Needing to get credit is passe.  

Most importantly - difficult conversations about race are important. We were home, a captive audience, and the conversation finally grew so loud that no one could deny it. Those who had never asked were moved to reach out to their friends of color about their experiences. We learned listening is important, but action has to follow to create real change. This is forever work.

 Let me end by saying THANK YOU to all of the essential workers, those that held this country together while we sat at home too afraid to leave our house.  Thank you for holding the hands of our loved ones when we could not be there.  

Many of us got a reset this year. So how will you look at the world differently?  What changes do you know deep down that you need to make? What will you do to be a better leader? A better person?

Think about how the world would change if we were all focused on MAKING A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY.

Stay focused - give more than you get.

Susan Collins is an Executive Coach and Job Search Strategist, believing that everyone should love their job, but sometimes it takes an impartial sounding board to help it all come together. Sign up for weekly emails focused on forward career momentum at https://www.thenetworkconcierge.com/newsletter/.



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