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Change is a natural part of living and business.
However, with the sudden and widespread changes catalyzed by the current global pandemic, and people required to work in isolation, it is impossible to continue business as usual without risk of quickly becoming redundant.
To stay relevant and thrive requires approach, starting with the willingness to step up to a new level of leadership – one that isn’t based on your or job title, but on your personal choice and demand to have a greater future, no matter what.
Sudden change of this degree is not necessarily comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or unpleasant. It can be a time of great growth and innovation.
Here are 4 key steps to lead from the front in unpredictable times, and from wherever you are currently working:
1. Be Present with What is Required Now
Fear in times of uncertainty can have a domino effect. With so many countries being impacted right now, perpetuating panic and doubt is counterproductive and even destructive. What was relevant in business yesterday no longer applies, so it is important to stay present and put your and your colleagues’ attention on what is possible now.
Ask questions to stay generative:
• What does my job and organization require of me, my colleagues and staff today?
• What are our clients looking for now?
• How do I position my skills, staff, projects and the organization so that we are relevant now and in the future?
Don’t assume that business will eventually “go back to normal” or function as before. It may, and it may not. Ask different questions, seek different perspectives, engage with new innovations and ideas. There are always more possibilities available than you think.
2. Engage, Engage, & Keep on Engaging
The world of telecommuting can put a wall between you and others, but it doesn’t have to. Multiple-participant video conferencing platforms are available for connecting with ease, and the “old fashioned” way of picking up the telephone is more relevant than ever now! Look outside the box. Who can you engage with and what questions can you ask that will create more for you, your teams, projects, and wider business?
Also, recognize that messaging and email are ways of delivering information, they are not communication. Don’t misidentify or mistake them as a substitute for actual interaction.
Taken for granted patterns of relating to people and business at the office won’t work anymore, either. If there are places in your life and business where you have been sitting back, hiding, unwilling to be in front or have your voice, now really is the time to change it. Your awareness, creativity, ideas, and ability to look at new opportunities with and for your organization are going to be needed more than ever before, no matter your title.
Each day, ask, “How can I allow my difference to shine through and contribute in ways I’ve not considered before?”
3. Prioritize Your Body
The new demands of mixed work and homelife and the mental and physical stresses of adapting to them mean that finding outlets for nurturing you and your body are more paramount than ever. To better be present, engaged and empowered from a distance, you’ll require a degree of self-care that you cannot put on the backburner.
Step away from your work and life demands at regular intervals to relax and breathe for 5 minutes: Close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground, place your hands on your stomach, and breathe in. For 3 breaths, imagine pulling your breath up from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, through your body and deep into the earth. For the next 3 breaths, pull your breath up through the earth, your body and out the top of your head.
Move every day and connect with nature. From inside your house or go outdoors and let the sun, trees, and fresh air rejuvenate you. Check in with your body every day and take action early when you perceive tension or signs of fatigue.
4. Be the Leader of Your Future
To be essential and relevant, you must stop looking externally for answers or for others to choose for you. You have to be the leader of your life every single day. Don’t wait. Create!
Each day has new requirements and new possibilities. Mentally clear the slate every morning and don’t reference the past to create your future. Ask, “What is possible today that was not yesterday?”
For better or worse, the old world no longer exists. You can choose to hide, fade and become irrelevant, or step up, take the lead, and create greater.
Your willingness to be a different voice and a leader for a greater future is what is needed now more than ever. Ask questions, be present, engage, nurture your body and your future. With these choices, you’ll create more than you currently think is possible in business and life, no matter where you are or what is occurring.
Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock is a leadership and entrepreneurial coach, professional services consultant, personal wellness mentor, and founder and CEO of global professional services company, Belapemo. Laleh boasts 30 years’ experience in operational excellence, change management and business consulting, and has inspired and empowered millions of individuals including Fortune 500 executives, government agencies, non-profit organizations, athletes and veterans. A highly respected executive and leadership coach, Laleh has a particular interest in supporting and encouraging the leadership capabilities of women – in business, in the workplace, at home and in the wider community. She is featured alongside luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, and Ginni Rometty in the 2019 publication, America’s Leading Ladies: Stories of courage, challenge and triumph. Follow Laleh.