The answer is – it shouldn’t, but it will. Inevitably, leadership will be defined in new ways given the shift in how employees, supervisors, peers—and teams as a whole—interact. But if there is anything that the last few months have taught us, it’s that leadership is something that needs to be elevated as we move into the “Now Normal.” Yes, the NOW normal, that wasn’t a typo. More than ever, people are craving strong individuals to lead them through change and tell them everything is going to be okay, while continuing to push for innovation, newness, quality of work and results.
Over the course of my career, I have learned from some amazing leaders (you know who you are!). Leaders that have stepped up when the times have gotten tough, leaders that have put me (and others) before themselves when things felt uncertain and leaders that understood change and the impact it makes in the short and long term – both personally and professionally. Change that evolves teams, change that builds people up and change that makes a difference that has helped create my generation of leaders
Somewhat early in my career, someone told me that in order to be a successful leader, I needed to “be less myself.” Fun fact – rule one of all good leaders – be encouraging, uplifting and empathetic. While I didn’t agree with this person’s leadership style, I learned that I needed to better define what leadership truly was TO ME – and how I was going to define being a successful leader.
I have thought back about this throughout my career and have built teams with the number one rule – let them be the best version of themselves and help them discover it if they haven’t already figured it out. Seems pretty easy to me; but recently, our personal and professional environments have merged (thanks, Zoom!) and we are now seeing some leaders for who they are versus the persona they portray at the office – and I like it.
We are seeing people as people. We are seeing leaders’ lives and the real and raw version of themselves – uncut hair, longer beards, lovers of loungewear, great parents and days that the camera just needs to be off. And as a professional community, we are all on equal ground as we navigate through this “Now Normal” and embrace the new versions of ourselves.
Whatever the situation, a “Now Normal” leader is someone who embraces truly the now. They work with what has been dealt. They pivot (had to throw in the most popular buzz word!) daily in order to keep up with where their attention is needed. They keep teams focused while being their best selves. And they set realistic expectations – not just for their teams, but for themselves.
Like many others, I love a good list, so I’ll leave you with my top five reminders for yourself, for you to share with your teams or for you to share with a leader who needs a little push.
”We are seeing people as people. We are seeing leaders’ lives and the real and raw version of themselves – uncut hair, longer beards, lovers of loungewear, great parents and days that the camera just needs to be off.
Be present and focused
It’s tough in with a new routine but remember that you aren’t alone—your teams need you. Even if it’s on a day you are wearing your favorite Lululemon sweats because you didn’t want to get “camera ready.”
The difference between leading and coaching is important here. A simple “How are you?” can do wonders – for your teams and also for yourself.
Lead with empathy
Understand that everyone is going through this differently – and every day is different. Just because you and your teams hit a good stride, it could all change so keep this one top of mind.
Be a human
We are in this together. Let’s raise each other up, okay?
Professionalism shouldn’t stop. It’s important to keep building our skills, especially when we are having to learn new ways of work.
The “Now Normal” will emerge leaders like none other. Those who approach with bravery, those who show their true selves as the line between our professional and personal worlds has faded, and those who are focused on raising each other up.
Stay safe, all. We will continue to get through this day by day.