How to Step Up as a Leader in a Post-Pandemic World

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This blog is a guest post from Rita Jordan, it coordinates with Mary Jo Burchard’s interview titled Building Trust in Uncertainty: A Personal & Professional Journey that aired on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.

 

The pandemic has brought a lot of challenges that businesses need to overcome — from disruptions in supply chain operations to remote working policies. A report from the World Economic Forum even highlights some major business apprehensions, including:

• Remote work’s impact on productivity
• Employee morale
• An increasing reliance on technology

And even once the pandemic ends, these concerns will remain. To overcome these challenges and even thrive despite them, leaders need to step up. But what kind of leadership will the post-pandemic world need?

You need to empathize

The pandemic has been a great threat to your employees’ wellbeing, whether that’s their physical or mental health. True enough, recent studies show that at least 34% of professionals in the country admit to feeling more burned out than usual. The uncertainties brought by the pandemic will continue to persist even when the worse is over. After all, who’s to say another year like 2020 won’t arrive?

That said, a post-pandemic leader knows how to make decisions while showing empathy. For example, if your team members are not feeling well, convince them to take a sick day. Offer assistance when they ask for it. If you can check in on them at least once a week, that would help, too.

You need to trust your team

Contrary to initial worries, remote working policies have been very beneficial for employee productivity. In fact, 67% of employees testify to getting more work done at home. As such, remote work will persist even after the pandemic.

But for a permanent remote setup to work, you need to be a leader that trusts their team. For instance, if you’re an operations manager, resist the urge to micromanage your employees to compensate for the distance. As one of the top careers in business administration, operations managers are the backbone of the company’s day-to-day operations. While overseeing teams is part of the responsibility, you should be more concerned about developing strategies to increase your department’s efficiency. The case is similar for sales managers, whose primary job is planning campaigns and not implementing them. Micromanaging in these instances will only cause unneeded stress.

Trust your team members to finish their tasks at their own pace, and be ready to guide them when needed. This not only empowers your individual team members, but it also lets you focus on what’s truly important.

You need to be tech-savvy

The pandemic may have accelerated its adoption, but digital transformation has been an increasingly crucial factor in the success of businesses.

For example, more customers are active online, which makes digital marketing an increasingly necessary part of your strategy. Office tools like CRM and AI can automate some of your processes, streamlining your operations. There’s even the advent of cloud technology, which lets you host data online. This can help you collaborate with your team much easier, which is especially useful in a time of remote work. Leaders need to know which technologies can help their teams or department function better.

If you want the business to thrive post-pandemic, you need to be a leader who’s willing to adapt. Learn how new technologies work and show your team extra attention. Circumstances may continue to be uncertain, but leaders know to cut through the noise and guide their teams to push past the fear.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Rita Jordan is a freelance writer and aspiring business owner, currently taking a Masters in marketing to fulfill said dream. She likes to read books and help her sister with art commissions when she has the time.

The Power of a Learning Culture and How It Fits Into a Competitive Sports Environment

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This blog is provided by Mark Shapiro, President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Disruption in America’s Favorite Pastime: MLB CEO Shares Insights that aired on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021.

 

As I reflected back on this pandemic year, I came across an email I wrote to Blue Jays staff while I was on the unexpectedly early flight home from Spring Training in March of 2020, part of which read, “If only I could just pass on some wisdom or insight from experience that would provide simple guidance for navigating this challenge. But there is no past experience for any of us. We are in uncharted waters.”

Together – players, coaches, staff alike – we were facing an entirely new situation with no playbook. And yet, the Toronto Blue Jays prepared for and attacked a season at two (now three) different home ballparks, overcoming uncertainty, external doubt, and constant change, to compete against the best in the world, going from a 95-loss team to making the expanded 2020 playoffs.

How do you prepare an organization to perform at the highest level during a once-in-a-generation crisis scenario?

There is no playbook for something no one has experienced, but by fostering an organizational culture of learning, open-mindedness, and intentional growth, leaders can lay the groundwork to make their team an unstoppable force when adversity arises. The ultimate competitive advantage.

Our leadership team has strived for many years to create a learning culture, where regardless of where we each individually show up to work – whether that is a player walking on to the field, a coach working with a hitter in the cages, a baseball operations employee looking for competitive advantages by analyzing game data, or a ticket rep fielding phone calls from fans – we listen to those around us with an open intent to learn and improve.

There have been few moments where I, or one of the many talented people I work with, have an immediate answer to a problem we are trying to solve. As issues and important decisions have arisen, we bring different people and opinions together to listen and collaborate. I take great pride in knowing and believing that no matter how many experts we contact to help us solve a problem or learn something new, I will walk into Blue Jays stadiums, offices, and fields across North and Latin America with the confidence that I am just as likely to learn from members of our organization – at any and every level – as I am from professors at elite universities.

That commitment to keeping an open mind leads us to have the ultimate competitive advantage – a learning culture.

Our Blue Jays catcher, Danny Jansen, recently told a story on a podcast about doing game recall when he was a young prospect where a coach would ask him why he called each pitch, “as soon as you stop learning from this game, and doing things to better yourself, it’s going to spit you out; as a catcher, you are always learning.”

When a pitcher is struggling to develop a new pitch, seeking out feedback and analyses from different resources might spark a tweak for success.

When a marketing employee is stuck on a concept for a fan initiative, collaboratively inviting people from other parts of the organization might bring around the next big idea.

When an amateur scout is speaking with a high school coach, their curiosity might uncover an overlooked prospect.

Our shared commitment to learn, get better, trust, and respect those around us, helps bring competitive advantage opportunities that might have been lost in a fixed mindset.

From border restrictions to COVID-testing protocol, I could spill a lot of ink sharing the unfathomable number of challenges that needed to be solved for this year. Like every other public facing organization, the list of questions was significantly longer than we had solutions for, with fans, players, families, staff, partners, media, and so many more, needing answers.

But to be a competitor, to be the best at anything you do, is to be constantly looking for ways to learn and improve. And by fostering a learning culture, our players and people already had the tools they needed without a playbook, to rise to the challenge at the highest level.

We have all been forced to live outside out of our comfort zones and to adapt to a new way of working this year. It would be easy to throw in the towel or use the overwhelming challenges as excuses for underperforming. But by taking ownership of a situation and approaching each moment as a growth opportunity, we can collaboratively find solutions and get better incrementally.

Even outside of a crisis, the competitive advantage gained by pulling together and building upon our experience, intellect, and skillsets enables us to bridge any resource gaps to compete against the best in the world.

An open mind and learning culture are better than any road map a leader can provide.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Over a career that spans 28 seasons, Mark Shapiro is one of the rare executives in Major League Baseball that has had the opportunity to lead and impact baseball, business, and league operations. Widely considered one of MLB’s top executives, he was appointed as President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays in November 2015, following 24 seasons within the Cleveland Indians organization.

Following both the 2005 and 2007 seasons, Shapiro was named the Sporting News “Executive of the Year,” at the time the only active GM in MLB to win the award twice. In 2005 he was also named “Executive of the Year” by Baseball America, and after the 2006 season, the Indians organization was named “Organization of the Year” by TOPPS for the first time. In 2007, Mark was named to the elite “40 under 40” by Sports Business Journal, as well as being listed on Baseball America’s “10 to Watch” list.

Photo by Mike Bowman on Unsplash

The New Wave of Networking Online

This blog is a guest post from Gabrielle Gardiner, it coordinates with Jacob Morgan’s interview titled The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade that aired on January 12, 2021.

 

Since networking digitally is the only way to connect with potential mentors, business partners, and peers these days, it needs to be a priority. To succeed in your online networking efforts, you need to be both tenacious and conscientious. Take a look at our seven tips to help you level up your networking game in the wake of the pandemic.

1) Update Your Online Presence

Especially in today’s tough job market, your networking skills are essential to finding the position that’s right for you. Make sure your LinkedIn and your professional references are updated. After all, your professional contacts are strategic partners in your job search. However, you don’t want to be caught asking for a reference without having talked to someone for a year or two. Your network will help you immensely, but only if you keep up your relationships.

2) Look Beyond Linked-In

Maybe LinkedIn is your go-to social network right now, but why not diversify the platforms you use? There are plenty of alternatives for professional networking that are merely a Google search away. Whether you’re a web developer or a fashion designer, you’ll find niche social networking platforms that you might not have realized existed. It’s worth your while to dedicate extra effort to find networking opportunities beyond the basics like LinkedIn.

3) Reconnect to Your Advantage

Now is the time to reconnect with your professional contacts and polish your personal brand so you can forge new connections. Digital networking’s lack of geographic barriers opens up a plethora of exciting opportunities. Take advantage of it! There has never been a more important time to participate in online conferences, webinars, digital workshops, and more. Check out the graphic below for actionable tips on how to thrive while networking online in the wake of the pandemic.

4) Attend Virtual Conferences + Other Events

Although you won’t be able to enjoy in-person connections at conferences any time soon, it’s just as effective to engage with speakers and fellow attendees through a virtual conference. These digital conferences usually have easy-to-use platforms or apps. There’s a level playing field for post-conference networking. There’s no pressure for in-person lunches or follow-up coffee dates because everyone is networking online. With clever communication strategies, you have just as much of a chance of getting noticed by an industry leader as anyone else.

5) Participate in Free Webinars

Regardless of your industry or stage of your career, participating in webinars is always worth it. You get the opportunity to network with fellow participants and industry leaders like you would at a conference, but usually in a smaller group. Be sure to introduce yourself in the chat channel. Participate in the corresponding webinar chat conversation. Also, there is almost always a Q&A portion of the webinar, which presents a great opportunity to stand out. Be sure to share what you learned from or appreciated about the webinar on LinkedIn or Twitter after the webinar, too.

6) Sign up for an Online Course

Most online courses involve a cost, but they’re a great way to both build skills and connect with like-minded peers in your field. Also, the accompanying Slack communities where fellow students or graduates of a program can connect and share ideas is a goldmine for networking. When you sign up for a workshop, coding bootcamp, or other course you’ll automatically join a cohort of people who are serious about learning and self-improvement. Who knows, you might even find yourself interested in a new career path.

7) Join Online Professional Associations 

Although there is usually a membership fee, the immediate networking opportunities with like-minded people and leaders in your field make the cost worth it. In a digital format, professional associations can offer access to exclusive online resources and notify you first about virtual conferences. Industry-specific organizations are a great way to meet leaders in your niche and possibly find a mentor.

Virtually conveying your expertise, personality, and soft-skills in an authentic way is easier said than done. Maintaining your current professional connections is not always a simple task while everyone is working remotely. Stay consistent with your networking efforts despite the challenge, and your work will definitely pay off in the end.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Gabrielle Gardiner is an NYC-based content creator who enjoys writing helpful articles about professional development for companies like LiveCareer. She’s passionate about sharing her insights to empower people to succeed in their careers.

 

Photo by Akson on Unsplash

What Does It Take to Be an Educational Leader in 2021?

We will be publishing some excellent guest writer blogs on Thursdays for the next few months.  This week the blog is provided by Jennifer Brown and is a companion to the interview with Mike Davis and Mark James, Junior Achievement — A Case Study in Disruption that aired on 11/12/2019.

 

The classroom offers no shortage of challenges for teachers, from navigating the different learning needs of a diverse group of students to keeping up with changing educational trends and policies. Plus, because of the 2020 pandemic, educators had to suddenly transition to remote-learning models, which was almost impossible to prepare for. And as many schools across the country re-open for full- or part-time classroom education, teachers have had to create structures that not only keep their students engaged but also adhere to COVID-19 health and safety standards.

While these types of obstacles are enough to keep some teachers engaged for a lifetime, others set their sights on even greater challenges within the educational system that will be in place long after the pandemic is over. However, transitioning out of the classroom into an educational leadership role isn’t as simple as throwing your hat in the ring. While classroom teachers are leaders in their own right, serving as an administrator requires a set of leadership skills all its own.

What it Takes to Be an Educational Leader

Becoming an educational leader is an opportunity to make an impact beyond the classroom. However, while teachers have ideas about the ways they’d lead differently given the opportunity, taking those ideas and turning them into actionable policies requires a unique set of skills.

When running a classroom, teachers have to make decisions moment by moment to keep their classrooms running smoothly and their students learning. Administrators, on the other hand, have to carefully consider the input of a variety of stakeholders before taking action.

In order to balance the demands of educational policies, district administrators, teachers, and parents, administrators must cultivate a culture of mutual respect and honest communication. That’s not easy to do when teachers often view administrators as a hindrance to their ability to teach, which is why an educational leadership role requires not only professional acumen but emotional intelligence as well.

The Demand for New Educational Leaders

For teachers who are up to the challenge of educational leadership, there’s no shortage of roles to fill. While teacher shortages draw the most attention, schools across the country are also facing a growing shortage of principals and other administrators. According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the demand for qualified principals in elementary, middle, and high schools is projected to grow 6 percent by 2022.

While some school districts struggle to attract candidates for leadership roles, most schools find that their problem isn’t the number of candidates, but the quality. One in three school principals stay in their role for less than two years and 18 percent leave the position within a year. Inadequate preparation is a leading reason for high principal turnover, which is why teachers are such attractive candidates for the job. When administrators have a background in education, they’re not only less likely to leave, they’re also more effective.

The Role of Educational Leaders in Student Achievement

What are the hallmarks of an effective educational leader? It’s not just an understanding of policy or a knack for juggling competing priorities. Experts agree that the most effective administrators are those who frame their decisions around what’s best for student learning — and that means creating a collaborative environment between teachers and administrators rather than taking a top-down approach to management. When administrators foster an environment that empowers educators, the sense of safety, support, and continuous learning that’s created trickles down to students as well. In fact, research has found that an emphasis on collaboration and communication is one of the key characteristics of high-performing schools.

Advancing your Career as an Educational Leader

While teachers are uniquely positioned to become educational leaders, taking that career leap requires additional qualifications. School principals require graduate-level degrees in educational leadership or administration in addition to state licensure, while educators who want to expand the opportunities available to them may opt to pursue a Doctorate in Education. With an EdD, educators can pursue a career as a K-12 principal, school superintendent, or an administrator in a post-secondary setting.

Pursuing a career as an educational leader isn’t a decision to make lightly. School administrators have a difficult job, and creating an environment that empowers students and teachers — both during and after the pandemic — requires professionals who understand the difference between leading and ruling. However, for teachers who appreciate the challenges facing their school system and want to make a difference, taking the step into an educational leadership role is the best way to do it.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 About the Author

Jennifer Brown is a guest writer.

Image via Pexels

 

Questions to Shape Your Leadership Decisions During Unrest – Who Do You Want To Be As A Leader?

In light of the recent events, Maureen is sharing an article with a competency model for leaders to work through their roles during this challenging time.

 

How do we, as leaders, frame our roles during the political unrest we see, the division on our political system, and our workforces? Recent research suggests that we are 66% less likely to follow leaders from differing political parties. As leaders of businesses, NGOs, and non-profits, we need to continue to serve our purpose for being, providing vital products and services to our stakeholders. We need to pay our employees, suppliers, and those whose money we use to run our organizations. How do we stay focused on meeting that mission while also engaging responsibly in our national political conversation? One key question for the most senior leaders of organizations is what role do we want to take in the political process? Is our part limited to meeting our mission? Does that role include attending to questions such as how are our political donations reflecting the values we hold as a company (if we donate)? We support free speech, but what about our employees participating in public statements that do not reflect our organization’s values? This is a tricky time, and how we navigate it will, for many leaders, define who they will be over the balance of their careers. They will likely see doors open and close based on their responses. Some leaders will create a new legacy, and some leaders will see a long-held legacy of service diminished in the eyes of many. Who do you want to be and become?

To explore these questions, I will first use the leadership mindset and behavioral competencies. You can best answer these questions after you take a clarifying look at your values. Given this disruption, are you seeing any shift in what you most value? Have the events of the past weeks or months clarified or shifted your foundational view of what you most value?

 

ILI Strategist Mindset Competency Model
Mindset and Behavioral Competency Explanation
Professionally Humble Cares more about the organization’s success than their success and image

 

·        They’re committed to their personal and organizational mission as a “north star.” It’s a focal point for where to invest their energy in service of making a positive impact and leaving a legacy

·        They care more about the organization and the results than their image

·        They freely, happily, and instinctively give credit to others

·        And they put principles ahead of personal gain

Reflection question: can you affirm your specific contribution to your organization’s success? You may answer this question for your company or professional organization. You may also want to think about your community organizations such as your church, synagogue, or mosque. Next, what about your family’s mission? I realize we are using business words for families; if raising strong, kind children is part of your legacy, how are you modeling those traits?

Unwavering Commitment to Right Action Is unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission

 

·        Commit fully, drive hard, and focus. At the same time, not overly-focused or stubborn.

·        Stay the course when under pressure and also dare to change course when a better approach emerges.

Reflection questions: How do you decide what is “right”? Do you continue to refine your direction based on new information and the changes you see in your environment? Are you acting in a way your grandchildren will look back and say they are proud to be part of your family? What emotions do your actions create in others? Are they proud of you? Are they embarrassed to be associated with you? Is their response due to naivete or an essential difference in perspective?  

A 360 Degree Thinker Take a systems view – understanding the context and interconnectedness of systems when making critical decisions

 

·        Innately understand the systems, constraints, perceptions, near term, long term, and secondary impacts of strategy and decisions and how to transform them to deliver significant results.

·        Balance the competing commitments of multiple stakeholders regularly

·        Strong commitment to continuous personal learning and building learning systems

·        Leaders understand cross-organizational impact and interconnections across multiple complex systems. They make highly informed decisions considering implications across broad contexts

·        Finally, leaders think in terms of systems, constraints, and perceptions when focusing on transformation. They consider context as a foundation for critical decisions

Reflection questions: Our actions ripple through the world in ways we don’t imagine. As you consider the many important questions you are acting on, such as how do we balance our people’s competing needs to freely express their point of view while also creating an environment that is productive and free from bias and ultimately brings out the best in all of our employees? Do you ask for input and test solutions across multiple stakeholder groups before making significant policy decisions?

Intellectually Versatile Develops interests, expertise, and curiosity beyond the job and organization. Life-long learners. 

 

·        Despite a devout commitment to the job and the organization, they are always interested and involved with areas beyond their comfort zones

·        Take a particular interest in their ecosystem, including industry-wide activities, political developments, and the international landscape.

·        Use external interest to make an impact, enhance their legacy and provide balance in life

 

Reflection questions: I imagine most of us are asking questions we find uncomfortable in the wake of the US Capital breech. What sources do we draw on to answer those questions? Do we look to our religious and spiritual texts to inform us? Do we revisit the Constitution and the words of Abraham Lincoln? Do we look at the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa or Martin Luther King and Gandhi’s work? Are you expanding your sources to consider a broader set of input or narrowing your focus to a single trusted source?

Highly Authentic and Reflective Not constrained by personal appearance but is highly focused on individual behavior

 

·        Highly committed to personal growth and development and growing and developing others

·        Surprisingly open to feedback and non-defensive

·        Seeks out discussions and feedback even in uncomfortable situations

·        Manage emotions in the most challenging situations. They understand the impact and contagious nature of emotions, so they develop skills to recognize them, manage them and relate to others productively

·        Maintain perspective in times of stress, taking a long-term view, and remaining vision focused. Difficult situations challenge them less than others

·        Demonstrates emotional courage – willing to confront challenging situations

·        Continually looking for ways to enable the organization to improve its ability to meet its mission more efficiently and effectively

 

Reflection Questions: Are you making time to read and reflect on your thoughts and values in the wake of this and other challenges? Are you seeking input, especially from people who see the world differently than you do? Are you finding ways to inspire those around you who are struggling? What do you do to maintain a healthy perspective? Do you have healthy practices and friends or colleagues who help you take a longer and more constructive view and see your opportunities to expand your impact during challenging times?

Inspires Followership Have a remarkable ability to connect with people at all levels of the organization to create and implement a shared vision

 

·        Intuitively understands change is necessary to sustain the organization’s ability to meet its mission. They know the steps to managing change and help the organization overcome its resistance.

·        Has an innate ability to diffuse conflict without avoiding or sidestepping the source of the conflict

·        Use humor effectively to put people at ease

·        Relate to a broad range of people and understand their motivators and stressors.

·        Innately connect projects to the individual goals while working to overcome barriers

·        Provide valuable feedback to others in a manner that is supportive of the recipient’s growth and development

Reflection questions: Do people trust you? Have you behaved in a way that puts the mission above personal gain? Do you admit mistakes or course corrections and help people understand why you are taking a position? Do you take the time to understand others whose opinions and life experiences differ from yours? Are you committed to the growth and success of others and the organization’s mission and success? Are you willing to share your struggles and questions during challenging times?

Innately Collaborative Welcomes collaboration in a quest for novel solutions that serve the highest outcome for all involved 

 

·        Seek input and value diverse points of view. Synthesize multiple perspectives into new solutions

·        Creates solutions to complex problems by developing new approaches that did not exist, pulling together constituents in novel ways, synthesizing broader and more creative alliances

·        Understands that in a time of extreme change, input from multiple stakeholders with diverse points of view is required to understand the complexities of the issues fully

Reflection questions: Whose opinion do I seek who sees the world differently than I do? How do I show my respect for their differences even if we hold significantly disparate views? How do I use collaboration to identify my own bias and blind spots that could be impairing our ability to accomplish our mission? What opportunity do we have not, during this challenging time that was not available to us before, and how can we use the power of collaboration to meet that opportunity?

 

Many of us are reeling from the range of emotions we faced during the past week’s events – irrespective of political party affiliation. With every crisis, we can find an opportunity to improve who we are and what we do. I invite you to reflect on your leadership through the lens of leadership mindsets and behaviors to see where you might refine how you lead.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Leading During a Crisis: Explosion in Beirut, The Aline Kamakain Story

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Maureen Metcalf, ILI’s CEO and Founder is a Fellow with the International Leadership Association (ILA). In this role, ILA recommends 12-16 interviews for her radio show focusing on innovating leadership. The show focuses on balancing academic excellence in leadership with personal stories of high impact leaders and thought leaders and authors talking about their latest books and frameworks.

The following blog accompanies an interview with Aline Kamakian. This interview, specifically Aline’s Story, was very moving and inspiring. We encourage you to learn more about Aline by listening to her interview titled Thriving During Crisis: A Successful Middle Eastern Businesswoman that aired Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020. If you feel moved to donate during the holidays to a person and organization in Lebanon impacted by the recent explosions, please consider supporting Aline and her efforts to re-open Mayrig to provide jobs for 85 staff.

This is Aline Kamakian’s Story.

As someone who has a master’s degree in business, I recognize that we can learn things in school, from books and lectures, but there are things that only life teaches us.  Being a Lebanese of Armenian origin, I grew up with my grandparents embedded in the stories about my ancestors. Their stories about the resilience and ability to adapt and the respect and gratefulness to the country that accepted them conveyed the values I learned.

On 4 Aug 2020, Beirut was hit by a huge blast.

According to BBC reporting, “The blast that devastated large parts of Beirut in August was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history, experts say. The Sheffield University, UK, the team says a best estimate for the yield is 500 tons of TNT equivalent, with a reasonable upper limit of 1.1 kilotons. This puts it at around one-twentieth of the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945… The explosion was the result of the accidental detonation of approximately 2,750 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate. The blast led to some 190 deaths, as well as more than 6,000 injuries.

My restaurant, our offices, my house and my car were all blown to pieces in just a second. The terrace outside of our meeting room looked out over the port just 300 meters further. We were having a management meeting. I don’t know how I survived, standing on the terrace, looking at the fire and fireworks in the port. The next thing I remember was standing over my financial controller and giving him CPR. I don’t know how I knew what to do, reflexes from when I was a girl scout? The blast had injured 25 employees, of which five were left with a permanent handicap. It destroyed most of the restaurant furniture and equipment. The building was still standing, but windows, doors, winter gardens were all shattered.

First, I needed to make sure all my employees were safe and had a roof over their heads. I had never felt a victim, but there was no way I could get back on my feet without external help. So, I decided to open a fundraising page to help us. One week after the blast, we started cooking over 1,000 meals per day in our central kitchen to be distributed among those who lost their homes. We prioritized, first comes the team, holding on to our values, generating income, moving on, and moving fast.

On the 4th of September, just one month after the blast, the restaurant opened its garden and kitchen again. While we were still working hard to repair and rebuild the inside of the restaurant. The first evening that the restaurant was again partly operational, the whole team had dinner on the Mayrig terrace.

Here is the reporting about the restaurant:

 

When 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate tore through Beirut, only a highway separated the city’s port where the explosives were stored from 282 Pasteur Street. This is where Mayrig, the famed Armenian restaurant known as much for its delectable sour cherry kebab as preserving Armenian culture in one of the diaspora’s strongholds, has stood since 2003.

Located in Beirut’s lively Gemmayzeh neighborhood in a building from when Lebanon was under Ottoman rule, the restaurant was destroyed.

It joined the rest of the city that stood in ruins, where over 170 people have died, thousands more injured, and an estimated 300,000 left homeless. The decimation the blast caused came on top of a Beirut that was already in political and economic crisis. The Lebanese pound was tumbling to shocking lows that have caused widespread poverty. Electricity and food shortages are the norms.

But the destruction of Mayrig stung beyond a crumbling building: around 85 families, whose livelihoods depended on the restaurant, were suddenly left jobless and homeless. Not a single staff member escaped unscathed, and some are still in critical condition.

And then there’s the other, more existential loss: the idea that an institution fighting to preserve and progress Armenian culinary heritage, which has always teetered on the brink of either being forgotten, denied, or erased, could disappear forever.

“Mayrig” means “mother” in Armenian. For the last 17 years, this woman-owned culinary institution has brought centuries-old recipes from inside the homes of the Armenian community in Lebanon to a restaurant enjoyed by both local and international patrons and built on those traditions to create new dishes. Staffed by the same Armenian mothers who have always led the preservation and passing down of food culture to future generations through their labor and knowledge, “Mayrig” was founded by Aline Kamakian.

Being at “Mayrig,” she said, is being alive.

Her grandparents, Armenian Genocide survivors, found refuge in Lebanon, becoming part of the Lebanese-Armenian diaspora, which now numbers over 150,000 and has contributed significantly to the social, political, and cultural life of the city while keeping Western Armenian heritage alive. Bourj Hammoud, one of the first places refugees settled, became the historic center of the Lebanese-Armenian community. The area was heavily impacted by the explosion.

Aline’s early Story

I was five years old when the war broke out in Lebanon. I have seen my father as an entrepreneur struggling to raise his family and keep us safe during the war. This taught us to be creative and find means under pressure and create solutions to the absence of necessary provisions such as electricity and water and fundamental civil human rights. For example, to open my restaurant in 2003, I had to build my water reservoirs, bring a generator to produce electricity, ensure the team’s transportation and basic needs, and find other locations during the war.

Preparation for Management During Crisis

In the war in 2006, we took three days to find a safe spot up in a mountain resort. This move made it possible to guarantee the continuity of the restaurant and the employees’ income. We had to build our reserve in fuel; bring walkie-talkies because there was no phone; secure a safe location for employees to sleep, and secure kitchen equipment from the kitchens of friends and family. We created a restaurant in 1-weeks’ time. The most important tools were: sharing information, make the team part of the decision making, delegate responsibilities. In these circumstances, it is about operating a restaurant and the security of the team. Almost half of them were living in dangerous areas. The team managed to work and did so without days off, without hours to rest to cover for the others. We agreed that we would see how to cover extra hours or vacation after we passed this crisis. We learned to adapt to respond to this disruption quickly. It turned out to be a right decision because it generated enough income to secure the salaries, and it offered the chance for the employees to continue working.

Every two years, we have a minor to big crisis that asks for our adaptation. In 2019 the revolution started after three years of financial difficulties and corruption scandals. The challenges were different and led to significant hardship.

  • The internal security was terrible; roads were blocked, breaking and burning buildings and public property.
  • The banking sector turned into an unpredictable mess. Lebanon was known for its strong banking sector and was the saving place for all the Lebanese diaspora. And suddenly, the banks stopped giving out money. There was a limitation on cash withdrawals and transfers. The impact was dramatic since Lebanon is mainly an importing country. Its own industries ae very limited and the country has very little raw materials.
  • Inflation towered: Lebanon rates now 3rd worldwide after Venezuela with an inflation rate of 365%. The challenge is that it is not just inflation but also inflation that the government doesn’t recognize. There is an official rate, a rate from the banks, and a black-market rate.
  • Covid-19 led to lockdowns in many countries; in Lebanon rules were not applied evenly over the whole territory as some political parties allowed their followers to disregard the rules. COVID spread fast in autumn, and governmental regulations are often contradictory from one week to the next, unequally applied and harmed first of all the whole Food and Beverage sector.
  • With a government that is corrupt, and incapable comes the explosion of 4 August. The government resigned, but since it hadn’t formed a new government yet, the old government continued in the same corrupt, incapable way.

How to lead in such a context?

University lectures didn’t teach us to navigate this type of crisis. I didn’t learn a to-do list.

In the restaurant business, never compromise on the quality. The challenges were to keep the quality. We couldn’t look at saving money during this catastrophic crisis. We were committed to living our values during the crisis.

  • We needed to keep the employees safe and secure cash. I created a pop-up project in Saudi Arabia and took part of my staff there for three months.
  • We were committed to maintaining food quality. The aim is to find the best product at the best price, not the cheapest product. We needed to keep the team quality-oriented, encourage sharing resources, information, and pay attention to finding the best ingredients.
  • I communicated very openly, explained the companies’ situation, and explained the difficulties of living in Saudi Arabia. We went as one team and worked together to maintain the team as in Lebanon, there was no income.

My goal was to jump on opportunities that would allow me to take care of my family and my team! I didn’t have all the info, but the circumstances required me to keep going. I knew I needed to be transparent, genuine, honest, and always make values-based decisions. In this case, I was focused on my team’s safety, health, and economic well-being.

Again I did the same thing: first comes the team, holding on to your values, generating income, moving on and moving fast.

 

Aline Kamakian acted in the best interest of her team during the most challenging experience of her life. She truly exemplifies someone who is living her values! She supports the families of the employees who are unable to work and who continue to require significant medical treatment. During our call, she deeply inspired me as a leader and person who acted as her best self during this crisis. We often look to movies for superheroes. I believe Aline is a real-life superhero. Her actions inspire and invite all of us to act with courage, integrity, and selflessness. To support her campaign, please consider donating to the Mayrig Family Go Fund Me campaign.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Aline Kamakain began her career as an insurance broker at the age of 18 to put herself through college. She graduated with a double major in Masters in Finance and Marketing, Aline’s skills as an insurance broker allowed her to build one of Lebanon’s top 9 Brokerage Firms. All through her successes, Aline never forgot her love for food but most importantly she never forgot her Armenian roots. In June 2003, she opened “Mayrig” an avant guardiste traditional Armenian restaurant to introduce to all those who appreciate homely, healthy and tasty food, the forgotten flavors of Ancient Armenia. Aline was also voted Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 in the Brilliant Lebanese Awards. She is a board member of the Lebanese Franchise Association as well as a board member of the Lebanese League of Woman in Business and a successful candidate of the 2014 Vital Voices Fellowship Program.

Photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash

 

GREAT LEADERS PIVOT, DISRUPT, TRANSFORM

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This blog is provided by Marcia Daszko, speaker, author and strategic advisor.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Pivot, Disrupt, Transform: How Leaders Beat the Odds and Survive that aired on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020.

 

Is your job, business, or industry facing new challenges, opportunities, or threats?  What do WE do? Great leaders see the needs of customers or society, and they rapidly pivot their direction, disrupt the status quo, and transform to make a difference!

Why do some leaders struggle, flounder, and fail while others see possibilities and opportunities and passionately are inspired to create a new future?

Leaders (at home and at work) transform to make progress with new, different, bold ideas and actions. Leaders see new markets and opportunities to serve and make a difference. That’s transformation: thinking and adding value like never before!

When we face challenges in life and a crisis such as a pandemic, some people quickly discover their natural leadership and internal courage. Others shrink, hunker down, and take no accountability. There are varying degrees of leadership and various places where it shows up.

Some people can jump into action and accelerate their creativity and innovate because they have a great foundation of strategic thinking and can use a Strategic Compass tool.  They’ve invested in themselves and their colleagues and have been learning to lead. They quickly gather an action team, create a plan, and launch into action.

 

Do You Know How to Think Differently and What to DO?

In recent months, we have seen leaders emerging around the world.  They step up individually, in organizations, and in nations. They reach across communities, industries, and countries to collaborate, partner, and find rapid solutions.

Leaders see the challenges and what needs to be done to beat the obstacles. What will it take? Leaders Pivot and transform!

Here are key Pivot Points that leaders use:

 

  • BECOME AWARE. Leaders anticipate crises. When it hits, they quickly assess and grasp the situation. They strategically see its probable impact and step up to address it. They sense and respond.

The Question for You: What are you aware of and how will it impact you?

  • BELIEVE. Leaders believe that by working together a crisis can be addressed. They have no doubt that they will make progress to serve customers, brand new markets, and society. They don’t waste time. High speed is their modus operandi.

The Questions for You: Do you believe that you can succeed and serve fast enough? Do you believe you can deliver an AMAZING EXPERIENCE OF VALUE THAT IS NEEDED?

 IF WE BELIEVE IT, WE CAN ACHIEVE IT. 

  • CREATE. Creative people are full of ideas in a crisis. Their creativity is contagious as they engage other people to explore and discover new, different, possible solutions. The more creative people are, the easier and more fun their work and solutions flow.

The Questions for You: Are you constantly discussing and exploring new ideas and choosing which ones you will implement? Are you learning and acting fast enough?

  • CAN DO. Innovators make their ideas happen. They influence, leverage, and connect with others to achieve their goals.

The Questions for You: Do you rapidly make your Plan (it might take 10 minutes or 2 hours to discuss and agree on a Plan of Action (do not take a week or month to make an Action Plan to address a crisis!) and act on it? What works; what doesn’t? Revise your Plan; do it again. Faster! You’ll can implement the Plan-Do Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. It’s just one tool to use to make a difference.

 

Where Do We See Pivots during the COVID19 Outbreak?

 Jobs. Thousands of restaurant and salon workers have lost their jobs. It’s uncertain if or when their employers will re-open. Workers who pivot immediately can find companies who are hiring and secure a new position.

Digital Education. Thousands of students, staff, administrators, and faculty pivoted into a digital learning platform. There has been wide variation with its success, and educators and families around the world are continually adapting to meet education needs. In the future, virtual and hybrid learning will continue to be adopted and integrated into the curriculum.

Telemedicine. Healthcare has transformed for thousands of patients who have been able to connect with their doctors via a Zoom platform to be diagnosed for minor illnesses and receive treatment or prescriptions without needing to go into the office. Telemedicine is a transformation that is widely welcomed and when possible, will not go back to the old way of medicine.

Hand sanitizers and ventilators. Small and large breweries and distilleries across the U.S pivoted from making beer, gin and vodka to making hand sanitizers.  Auto manufacturers pivoted to produce ventilators as seven ventilator producers increased their productivity on 24-hour shifts.

Mask sterilizers. Three Midwest companies transformed 100’s of toaster ovens into mask sterilizer units that can sterilize 150 masks per hour and donated them to hospitals low on mask inventory.

Virtual events. Consultants, trainers, and speakers shifted to virtual classes, events, and conferences to share significant intellectual property.

There is power in the pivots! Pivots in life are perpetual. If you face a challenge, rise up and pivot. The more you prepare yourself for continual transformation (let go of the status quo), the easier it is to embrace new futures.  Wherever there are needs for solutions or there are opportunities to seize, innovators are intrinsically inspired to create new organizations, products or services.

Your power is in your pivot!

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Marcia Daszko has helped leaders at home and at work for 25+ years pivot to save or exponentially grow their organizations to navigate crises or embrace new opportunities.  A professional global keynote and workshop leadership speaker, she is a trusted strategic advisor, and facilitator for executive teams.  She is the bestselling author of the book “Pivot Disrupt Transform” and co-author of “Turning Ideas Into Impact: Insights from 16 Silicon Valley Consultants.” She has also taught MBA leadership classes at six universities across the U.S.  Contact her at md@mdaszko.com and access her resources at www.mdaszko.com

How to Keep Business Level During the Pandemic in the “New Normal”

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This blog is provided by Bill Higgs, speaker, author and expert authority on culture.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business that aired on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020.

 

The pandemic-fueled recession forced businesses to take a hard look at their expenses and make judgments about what is a necessary expense, what is a luxury, and what is an out-and-out waste.

As uncomfortable as that might be for many business leaders – especially if it means cutting someone’s job – it’s clearly critical to the organization’s survival to figure out ways to conserve cash whenever hard times descend on both a company and the economy at large.

At Mustang Engineering, the company I helped found, we used the phrase “plug all the holes in the bucket” as a metaphor for finding ways to conserve cash before it trickled out through the leaks. Those “holes in the bucket” could be labor costs, lease space, and all sorts of general expenses. Ultimately, anything that had the potential to kill profitability was a “hole in the bucket” that we were determined to plug.

Actually, we chose to be tight with money right from the beginning with our company, largely because we needed to be. For example, like many new businesses, we couldn’t really afford a dedicated sales team. And, in fact, Mustang didn’t hire its first full-time salesperson until we had been in business for seven years. We just did without. In the meantime, I did the selling myself.

We also were forced to gather a lot of experience making do with less because we went through four major downturns that were different in their details but similar in their economic impact to what we’ve experienced with the pandemic. Banks went under, there were foreclosures on every street, and hundreds of businesses disappeared in Texas.

In between there were nine other significant downturns, all related to the oil price that was whipsawed around by war, politics, tariffs, embargos, transportation restrictions and OPEC.

Despite those difficult times, we never went down in revenue when they hit because we were continuously preparing ourselves for the next downturn. We didn’t know where it would come from, or when, but we knew it would happen eventually, so we wanted to be ready.

Ever since the pandemic hit the U.S. and the recession quickly followed, businesses have had to make the same type of frugal and practical decisions we did.

So, whenever a crisis like this hits, you have to ask yourself: What do we absolutely need? What can we do without?

Take notes on everything you have done so far to “plug holes” and reduce cash outflow to insure you do not let any unnecessary expenses creep back in. Examine your profit-and-loss statement in detail and see if you can identify other cuts you can make.

Be ruthless.

At the moment, this is a matter of survival. But learning to practice frugality now will also make you much stronger in the long term. You want to make this a habit, not just something you do when dire circumstances arrive.

Imagine how much better shape you would have been in when this recession hit if you had been “plugging those holes” all along.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is former CEO and founder of Mustang Engineering, which he took from zero to $1 billion in annual revenues based on a people-first culture. He is also the ForbesBooks author of the just-released book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. His culture podcast and training modules are available through www.culturecodechampions.com.

How to Balance the Three Rings of Your Personal Market Value as an Innovative Leader

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This blog is provided by David Nour, CEO of The Nour Group.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Curve Benders: The Intersection of the Future of Work and Strategic Relationships that aired on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020.

 

During times of uncertainty, we begin to question ourselves. We wonder if we are on the right path, are we accelerating in our leadership, or do we have all the education and experiences we need to succeed as a leader? Instead of throwing this time to the wind, the global pandemic could be used to assess our value and emotional investment.

Just like Walmart or Apple, each of us should be thinking of our perceived market value. There are essential areas that you need to focus on to make sure you are at the highest value. At a time where global jobs are at risk for significant cutbacks or replacement by accelerated technology such as automation and AI, many leaders are in a global war against obsolescence. That’s why you need to attend to all three areas of your personal market value: people, personal, and professional.

 

Core Ring: People 

Your central ring is founded on people you can’t live without: your friends and family. The core of your social sphere needs to be composed of individuals who provide a loving home and a stable social life. If your home life is unstable and disruptive, it will show up in how you lead at work. It will stifle your creativity, innovative ideas, and problem-solving with and through your team. However, when your core group is a loving ecosystem of close friendships, deep partnerships, and rich family interactions, it will provide you with the foundational support to accomplish any stress in your leadership style.

Having a nurturing infrastructure builds our leadership resilience. Many top leaders we admire confess that their success is often credited to their nurturing family and spouse.

Choose wisely who you spend your downtime with. It’s better to be surrounded by fewer authentic friendships with equal emotional investment than to be surrounded by 100 acquaintances who, frankly, don’t care about what you’re doing. The world and our leadership obligations naturally put pressure on us, and if we don’t have a solid foundation to stand on, it is a struggle to get ahead. If this is an area you think you need to pay more attention to, actively elevate it.

 

Second Ring: Personal 

No pandemic, economic crisis, or war can take away your investments in your personal development as a leader. Crisis or not, we are at a time where we are living longer: the United Nations projects that the average life will be 95 for women and 90 for men. That means we don’t just have longer lives; we are working longer too. Every leader, regardless of their tenure should be investing in his/her life-long education, spiritual grounding, and unshakable values. These are developments that are immediately in your control. Industries will always develop and evolve; therefore, life-long learning will be mandatory.

When we continue our leadership education, it will show us how to adapt and upgrade to the ever-changing framework we live by. No one this time last year would have expected we would be predominately if not exclusively working from home. Many who have thrived during this time have prioritized upgrading their digital infrastructure and mastering new remote leadership tools such as digital whiteboards.

That openness also expands to our spiritual selves. Whether you prescribe to an organized religion or consider yourself curious, we need to have personal spiritual grounding to believe in something more than ourselves.

When you focus on these non-negotiable values, they become guardrails for future direction and keep you in your preferred lane.

 

Third Ring: Professional

The final ring of your personal market value is the professional sphere. This is seen as your acumen: how you blend your knowledge and skills in the manner which you lead. Your past actions and expertise will inform your future decisions and problem-solving accurately. You will be better at cutting and adjusting productivity, revenue, and costs. This business acumen allows you to see the bigger picture, evaluate available options, and confidently make high-grade options. This is also leadership by modeling the business behaviors you want to see in others.

Your ability to focus on a few, strategic priorities necessitates leading others toward a common mission, vision, or against a possible enemy. That’s where your leadership presence comes into play. You want to captivate a room or a person. When you have them on the edge of their seat, you have honed your gravitas. Aspire to be measured with your language, hold yourself confidently, and command the right kind of servant leader attention. These individuals don’t throw around SAT words and leave their audience confused; they are succinct and careful with their message, recognizing the incredible power of the verbal and written language.

Lastly, you must develop your emotional courage to lead. There will be situations where uncomfortable topics or feelings arise. You must be willing to experience feelings like discomfort, risk, and disappointment. But the true leaders are the ones who push through the discomfort and take charge of their emotional courage and compassionately have a conversation. If you’re not willing to examine any of those things, you won’t be able to handle anything.

Are you lacking in any of these three areas? Start from the core and work your way out. If you find yourself coming short in one spot, consider investing in your growth today.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

David Nour, a senior leadership/board advisor, educator, executive coach, and bestselling author, is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation, and lasting change. The author of eleven books, including bestsellers Relationship Economics® (Wiley), and Co-Create (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the forthcoming Curve Benders (Wiley, 2021), Nour serves as a trusted advisor to global clients and coaches corporate leaders. He is an adjunct professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and was named to the Global Gurus Top 30 Leadership Professionals list. A Forbes Leadership contributor on the Future of Work, and an Inc. contributor on Relationship Economics, Nour’s unique insights have been featured in a variety of prominent publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company, Huffington Post Business, Entrepreneur, and Knowledge@Wharton. He’s also the host of the popular Curve Benders podcast.

Born in Iran, Nour immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager with $100, limited family ties and no fluency in English. He graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and went on to earn an Executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He resides in Atlanta, GA, with his family. Learn more at www.NourGroup.com.

 

How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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This blog is provided by Ashley Halsey, as a companion to the interview with Greg Moran and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Evolving Leadership to Navigate Significant Disruption that aired on August 18th, 2020.

 

Working during these surreal times of COVID-19 has meant that many businesses have implemented remote working into their daily operations. This means holding virtual meetings, working from home, and trying to keep things going as straight as possible. However, when you’re leading a remote team virtually, there are a lot of difficulties you wouldn’t come across in the traditional way of working.

It can be a challenge to be a successful virtual leader, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. To help you be as successful as possible; here are the tricks and tips every virtual leader needs to know.

 

Respect the Times

As a leader, you need to be aware that these are unprecedented times, and people are going through challenging circumstances. Balancing the work-home life while staying at home will be difficult for many and adjusting to these new ways of working will take time, even for months to come.

Being a successful leader means respecting and understanding and having patience for these difficulties, and then being proactive in helping your team through all the difficulties and hopefully make the best of this situation.

“You can do this by setting aside time to talk to staff as a group and individually so you can help them describe the obligations and challenges they’re facing, and then you’ll be able to address them and work with your team to provide solutions that work on an individual basis,” explains John Hammond, a leadership blogger at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.

 

Making Sure People are Punctual

Timekeeping in remote working is still just as important as it is in the traditional working environment. Being punctual promotes a trusting culture within your team and helps to bring everyone together. If someone is late or people are casual when arriving to meetings, this can cause divides between people and your team dynamic will fall apart very quickly.

However, there are plenty of ways a virtual leader can incorporate and nurture this kind of culture. Firstly, make sure you’re laying down the rules quickly that people need to be attending meetings when the time is set. There shouldn’t be any kind of leeway on times.

Then, you need to make sure your meetings have agendas that can be followed to ensure that everyone knows what’s being spoken about, and you can stick to a time frame that works. If your company has back-to-back meetings, it may be worth booking 50-minute time slots for meetings, so people can get up and have a ten-minute break before heading into the next meeting of the day.

Remember, people will be late for some meetings. Life simply gets in the way, so think about how you’re going to deal with this. Communicate the problems that come with being consistently late, and the process of what will happen if the problem continues.

 

Spice Things Up Over the Long-Term

When you’re sitting in virtual meetings or in front of a computer screen all day, things can get boring very quickly, so as a leader, it’s up to you to get creative with how you can make meetings more interesting. For example, you might set up a small fun part of the meeting first that gets everyone to have some kind of input.

On a basic level, you might go around the group and get them to describe something they’ve been up too outside of work, or in the previous meeting, get them to prepare something for the start of the next meeting, such as a positive quote, or saying something they’re grateful for.

“Just like you would with team-building days or going to a bar after work, you may want to hold a virtual social meetup, where you could do something like have a fun quiz, or even asking a little question for everyone to give fun answers too. One of my favourites is Mug Monday, where everyone shows the coffee mug they’re drinking from,” shares Tina Harrison, a business writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.

 

Be Adaptable to Positive Change

Just because every other business in the world seems to be using Zoom to host their virtual meetings, that doesn’t mean you have too. From Microsoft Teams to Slack, you need to make sure you’re trialling different ways of working to see what approach works best for you and your team.

This doesn’t just stop at the video conferencing software you’re using. From cloud services to instant messaging apps, think about the solutions you’re using and how you can make things better for everyone involved. Of course, you don’t want to change things all the time, but rather have test sessions and then get feedback from your team so you can iron out the creases of virtual working.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Ashley Halsey is a business consultant and writer at Essay Writing Services and GumEssays who has been proactive in helping businesses adjust to the current COVID-19 climate. Mother of four children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending virtual business training courses.