In the past year we have reached a point of greater acceptance that ‘success’ is more about awareness and stamina than a quest for perfection. COVID-19 blindsided us and overturned our familiar way of working and yet many have tried to maintain ‘business as usual’ but this has proved unsustainable as home and work lives have merged. We may have embraced the technical changes of remote working, but we have not completely adapted to a different way of working and style of life. Of late I have noticed that leaders are dealing with team members who are disengaged, less confident, weary, irritable, and more critical of their virtual colleagues. To address these issues leaders have organised a range of creative team building initiatives which are designed to bond and energise the team. Whilst these initiatives are laudable the focus is more on boosting morale than engagement. So, how can you best support and engage your team? In these circumstances there is no rule book or right way to lead, we can only be true to ourselves and remember the purpose of our role. However, in the absence of guidelines, we can learn from others ‘etiquette’ to keep ourselves and others safe, to be respectful of one another whilst maintaining a good vibe.
As a coach I often seek a metaphor or analogy to tell the story and illustrate a point. Which sport might hold the guidelines to leading in these uncertain times? I decided upon one of the most difficult and complex sports in the world. A sport which an athlete’s performance depends on adapting to elements that change. and I decided upon Surfing.
What can surfers teach us about riding the waves?
1. Waves can go left and right – we must be prepared to expect the unexpected when experimenting with new ways of working together. a setback is not a failure – it is part of the learning process
2. Do not get in other surfers’ way – when you have established whether an individual is competent and comfortable with a task – let go
3. Take turns – give others opportunities to manage a task or lead a meeting
4. Let others know your intentions – clarity and transparency reduce anxiety, increases confidence in your leadership and takes your team forward.
5. Do not ditch your board – hold on to what is relevant – review your familiar way of working – policies and procedures to establish whether they are still fit for purpose
6. Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean. Keep your head up and take notice of what is around you. Where you look is where you go, and it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Take time to consider the longer view in terms of developing the next generation of talent.
All of these behaviours demonstrate Executive Presence, the ability to influence, engage and inspire others to act.