We’re already in the middle of August, and as the calendar tips toward Fall, there’s still a lot of coronavirus challenges to deal with. Maybe you’re tired of reading about it, or maybe you’re tired from having to live through it—either way, this is certainly a season that puts everyone to the test.
If you’ve ever heard me speak in person or listened to my podcast, then chances are you’ve heard me say this before:
“The are no two good consecutive days in the life of a leader.”
That’s certainly true these days. While leaders are used to being tested, they’re not necessarily used to being tested quite this much. Daily, it seems that leaders are pushed to their very limits, and I’ve noticed that many of these tests fall into one of four types:
If you’re a leader, few things require your time like the people you lead. While the most obvious impact of the pandemic has been on physical health, leaders must also consider the emotional and mental health of their people as well. Add to that trying to manage the logistical challenges of allowing people to work in office or from home, or the economic challenges of keeping staff on or making cuts, and you can see how, wherever the next few months lead, you’re going to be tested first and foremost in your ability to lead your people well.
All leaders know that managing time can be a challenge on a good day, but it’s even harder right now. If you’re working from home, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it can be easy to allow time to become flexible—and if it’s true for you, it’s true for your people. Or maybe you’re back in the office but can’t hold meetings or other gatherings the way you used to, which means you need to find new ways to maximize your time. Making the most efficient and creative use of your time—and your team’s time—is definitely a test you need to keep in mind.
I usually don’t talk about troubles or problems—I usually talk about opportunities! Within every challenge that comes your way, there’s an opportunity embedded within. But during a season when so many problems come at you so fast, it’s easy to lose that mindset; it’s easy to focus solely on the troubles and ignore the possibilities. As a leader, you need to safeguard your mindset so you don’t allow problems to mount and opportunities to pass you by.
Whether you’re talking about people, buildings, or systems, the last test a leader regularly faces is the test of change. We’ve all felt the pressure of this particular test over the last several months, and signs are pointing towards that pressure continuing—if not growing. While change is natural, not all change is healthy; healthy change is growth, and as leaders we need to be on the lookout for growth opportunities and growth lessons within this pandemic season. We need to build on our personal strengths as well as the strengths of our people, because this is a time where innovation, creativity, and courage rule the day.
It’s times like these that I wish I could mentor every leader personally; I wish I could spend a day with you, listening to your challenges, asking you questions, and sharing insights from what I’m learning. It helps to have a mentor to guide you during challenging times, so I encourage you to not go it alone.
Coronavirus or not, there are still more tests of your leadership to come. Your people are looking to you for an example during these difficult days, so I hope you’re preparing yourself daily.
Stay sharp, stay flexible, and stay humble—these are tough times for leaders, but they won’t last forever.