This week, I’m talking with leaders about their real-life, day to day experience. And that’s what’s interesting about a crisis – for many people it helps bring focused attention. Here’s a metaphor: Facing a clear and present danger can be like when I am bird watching and I hear a sharp call. Spinning the wheel of the binoculars, the rest of the forest drops away and I get tightly focused on important details – I look directly at what I need to see, what I came here for.
Leaders are reporting that their teams, who might have been struggling to prioritize, are finding it easier to “let the non-essentials go”. As we narrow our physical spaces – whether working from home or tightening safety protocols – we may be KonMari -ing our work lives.
In An Everyone Culture (2016) Kegan and Lahey talk about how we hide at work. They say, “…most people are doing a second job no one is paying them for…spending time and money covering up their weaknesses, managing other people’s impressions of them…playing politics.”
The sharp focus of today may be just the excuse to stop this. A smaller, tighter focus can create a safer container to have authentic conversations. Topics which were taboo or “too hot” before can take place now in the team, in the interest of the priority. Facing a common challenge (enemy) may help us to trust, even those we were suspicious of before. The hard journey, exhausting, may finally sap any energy we used to pretend or perform. It’s pretty real to work with a toddler on your lap.
Leaders set the pace. Remember to discuss priorities upon which the task focus rests – team morale, individual well-being, collaboration and coordination. A good habit is to be intentional in your interactions. Take a moment to think about what’s real for you in-the-moment, just before you log into a meeting. What does your logical mind tell you is most important? What emotions and feelings are you having, and how do you want to express them to bring benefit to others? If you’re gutsy what is true and visible to you – and what words are best to own up to that? Align your head, heart and gut and then when you show up, show up as real and as focused as you can.