How to Lead in a Post-Pandemic World, Part 1

Hello Friends!

A couple of months ago, a friend posted an article on FB called “The Big Quit”. Intrigued, I tried to follow the link but the article was unfortunately behind a paywall. I ended up googling it to see if I could find it elsewhere and was quite astonished by what I found. 355 million hits!!! Hundreds upon hundreds of articles on a phenomenon I hadn’t even heard of up to that point. Apparently, for the first time in generations, it is an employEE market!!
 
The pandemic, burnout, working from home … there are myriad factors contributing to this. And it does seem that perhaps some of the intensity of this Great Resignation is focused on the United States. But with shifting mindsets on a wide range of topics, including diversity & inclusion, work-life balance, and what leadership actually means, we seem to be in the middle of a rather seismic shift in how, where, and why we work. 
 
According to Forbes’ Why the Big Quit is Happening, “working remotely has enabled many white-collar workers to feel like they no longer had to choose between their work, family and well-being.” 
 
The future of work is looking a lot different. And that means that how we lead in a post-pandemic landscape is going to look a lot different too. 
 
There are so many interesting resources on this topic, that I’m going to divide this newsletter up into two parts. A lot of burnout comes from overwhelm and I don’t want to contribute to that in any way! 😉 So this is How to Lead in a Post-Pandemic World, Part 1 of 2.

THE BURNOUT PANDEMIC – AND HOW THAT’S LEADING TO CHANGE

We’re not only in the midst of one global pandemic at the moment, but two. Even in 2019, burnout was fast becoming a pandemic in the corporate world, and the Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated that trend. 

The silver lining is however, that as the burnout pandemic has raged and accelerated, we have almost hit critical mass – not herd immunity, but the herd’s limits. 

According to Time magazine, “for a long time, burnout was seen as the worker’s problem—something they needed to fix with self-care and yoga and sleep if they were going to make it in the rat race of life. … But according to Christina Maslach, a social psychologist who is the U.S.’ preeminent burnout expert and co-creator of the most commonly used tool for assessing worker burnout, none of these strategies will ever be successful if they place all the onus on the worker. “Nobody is really pointing to the problem, which is that chronic job stresses have not been well managed” by employers, she says.” [emphasis mine]

Which means that now more than ever, leadership skills such as empathy, active listening, authenticity, and vulnerability are going to be the real make-or-break assets for the Future of Work. Employees are looking more and more to the intangible benefits of work and “the way we’ve always done it” won’t cut it going forward.

HOW TO BE A BETTER LEADER

“The future of work shouldn’t be based on the cow paths of the past” – a great reference and a true statement! How we did things in the past – before digitalization, before working from home, before the Fourth Industrial Revolution – shouldn’t be the only driver (or even one of them?!) for how we do things in the future. This TED Talk on 3 Tips for Leaders to Get the Future of Work Right really drives home this point. 
 
How do you know what you don’t know? And if you’re a leader, how do you know what others are experiencing, if you’ve not experienced it yourself? I loved this podcast for demonstrating how to cultivate empathy and the thought process around being a leader and addressing situations with people who are different to you but who also need your leadership and guidance. It’s a strong demonstration of what leadership development coaching can be like!

LEADING MEANS COMMUNICATING

While we may not consider the way we talk to be ‘violent,’ words often lead to hurt and pain, whether for others or ourselves.” — Marshall Rosenberg

Leading in a Post-Pandemic, You4.0 World means communicating. As we are really seeing around us, words matter. Being able to express yourself, with clarity, empathy, and authenticity, is a critical skill in a world where many workers are remote, teams are virtual, and diversity and inclusion means we can no longer rely solely on shared experiences and culture to create rapport.

I really enjoyed Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication – it is an engaging read, full of very practical and helpful role plays, questionnaires, and examples of how – and how not – to communicate. Really a must for anyone wishing to be a better communicator!

WHAT I’M READING

When I put out the call for a great new read, you really answered! I got lots of suggestions, and have selflessly read several of them on your behalf – just to see if they were worth recommending here of course! 😉
 
Agent Sonya is the clear winner of the books I’ve read from that list so far. As reader Alison wrote, “it isn’t fiction but read like a thriller at times. A real page turner and not heavy history. I was fascinated and couldn’t put it down.” 
 
I would completely concur! It was a really fascinating true story of a German Jew in the 1920s-1950s who first became a communist and then shortly thereafter, a spy for the USSR. Her spy missions took her to China, Switzerland, Poland, England and almost everywhere in between, all the while being a wife and mother to (eventually) 3 children. She rose so high in the spy ranks of the KGB that she was promoted to Colonel and was even allowed to retire – an extremely rare feat for a spy. A completely engrossing story!
 
And I think I need to add an additional bit here for WHAT I’M BINGEING…
After devouring The Grand Scheme: Snatching Sinatra a few weeks ago on my friend Susannah’s recommendation, naturally I was curious when she posted about her next binge: Firebug. Another true crime podcast, about a California arsonist in the 1990s. Fascinating! Getting into the mindset of the arsonist – himself an arson investigator!! – made for really intriguing listening. 

What podcasts or audiobooks have you binged lately and loved?? I’m on a business trip next week and driving to the client offsite so am in the market for an enthralling listen to entertain me on the drive! 😄
 
Have a fantastic weekend, and happy Halloween! 

Hugs,

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