One year ago this month, life looked completely different. It’s still hard to fathom how much the world changed overnight, and how much workplaces transformed –– perhaps forever changed. Restaurants closed their doors and shifted to curbside pick-up. Office workers transitioned to fully remote. Factories took drastic safety measures. And there was no end in sight.
A year later, we are thankfully closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic than the beginning. Despite the pain, we can now clearly see that people can start over –– especially when we work together. One way to view this past year is an opportunity to lead with “Beginners Mind.” In other words, leaders had to see their circumstances anew. The silver lining of the COVID shows how leadership has the power to regroup and guide others from any new starting point. As we transition into a new “normalcy,” it’s important for leaders to cultivate this Beginner’s Mind.
Think beyond yourself
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that everyone has been touched by struggle, difficulty or even tragedy. Leaders should keep that in mind when approaching their team, knowing that not all work performance issues may be related to work. We call this recognition becoming “other-centered.” When you approach other-centeredness with Beginner’s Mind, you will feel good inside when an individual, or team, succeeds under your leadership. You have arrived as a leader when you recognize that it’s not about these people being lucky to have you as a leader, but about you being grateful they are all here.
A changing work environment
All humans thrive on routine, which made the disruptive start of the pandemic feel so chaotic. But over time, we all adjusted to this new normal as best as possible. Some people found they thrived better under more flexible work hours or by eliminating their commute. As we move forward into a new-new normal, leaders should view work environment anew. What elements from the past should return? And what adjustments from this past year can become part of a long-term routine? How can leaders merge the best of both worlds for a new beginning?
Check in frequently
One of the most important principles we stress with leaders is catching their team doing something right. We want to reinforce positive behaviors, not just correct problems, which can lead to burnout and apathy. This can be harder to do when workers are spread out, but it’s even more important now. Leaders can look for new ways to connect with their team, such as a check-in email with no agenda or a simple thank-you note. Ask how people are doing, if they need any support, or what they are most proud of from their day. Look for ways to boost employees beyond when physical proximity may not be possible.
Today, we all see a new beginning on the horizon. For leaders, this is a key opportunity to begin again –– and lead with the powerful eyes of Beginner’s Mind.
At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.
For more information, contact Steph Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org