Leadership Through the Pandemic and Beyond

May 20, 2020

FAIRFAX, VA – Empathy, compassion, and trying to create clarity for teams and people you lead is important. That might be clarity about tomorrow, because it doesn’t have to be a long timeline with clarity because it’s obviously impossible for any of us to predict the future. Leaders who are doing well are synthesizing a lot of information and working to provide as clear of a direction as possible to their team.

I have four practices that I think are really important right now. Number one is explore hindsight with an eye for how you could have been better prepared. This isn’t to beat yourself up or to be detrimental, it’s really just that self awareness is an accelerant to future growth. It’s a luxury right now to look back and prioritize what’s important for you in the future. If we look at hindsight, and we take in that luxury, we can be better off in the future. It can really inform our actions, but it has to be a self-aware reflection.

Number two is to take a long view forward. The next year, or even the next two, might not be the most exciting and dynamic years of peoples’ careers, and it can feel a bit like a slog. I can personally relate. I’m not doing the most favorite parts of my job right now. I’m trying to do my job well, but it’s not the meeting people, being with people, being at events—all those things I love to do. They are still important things for me to do, but I encourage people to take a long view forward.

We were very busy in our lives up until March. Sometimes we couldn’t even remember what we did the day before. Strategizing too far into the future seems like a luxury we didn’t have, yet we now have time to do it. While our careers might not be the most dynamic for the next year or two, think about what you want to do or where you want to be in five to ten years. There are still steps we can take to get there and we should not be frustrated by the slowness or the derailment of current times.

Number three is to become more comfortable with risk. I know that might sound crazy when we’re in the middle of this pandemic and the uncertainty that it brings. Yet, what do you have to lose? Where have you been playing it safe, what opportunities do you want to explore as a person, as a leader? It’s that consistent risk in our lives on a daily basis that actually allows us to build the skills necessary for unprecedented times like today, and also to achieve more of what matters to us. Honestly it’s a hidden success factor that I see with leaders who are truly excelling.

Number four is to show others you care through actions. Now is not the time to think about the great things you could do on behalf of others; it’s time to actually do them. They might be very simple things. Showing others you care through actions is about maybe listening a little bit longer when you check in with a colleague, or dropping off a care package for someone.

One of my friends was just talking recently about how someone dropped off a book that’s a best seller along with a bottle of champagne on her porch. It meant so much to her that someone she didn’t even know that well got her a book and a bottle of champagne. It was just a simple little gesture, but it really improved her morale.

Another gesture may be something as simple as supporting flexible work hours for a team member who might have small children, or is experiencing a challenge in their family, perhaps even apart from the pandemic. There are simple things we can do. They key is take action on behalf of others.

Courtney Lynch is a partner at Lead Star, Fairfax, Va. Lynch is a former Marine Corps Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spark. She presented The Women’s Leadership Workshop: Influential Leadership at last year’s Construction Super Conference in Palos Verdes, Calif.