Give yourself the pep talk I’ve just given myself this morning.

Since March 2020, any sense of long-term strategy has flown out of the window.  It can sometimes feel like an achievement to survive the next hour, the whole day, or make it to Friday (should you still know what day it is).

Working from home, reduced teams, and socially distant office spaces all contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.  There are positives.  We have a plan, it is the right one, and it is working – slowly.  On the plus side new relationships have formed, or existing ones have become closer and stronger – even allowing for the medium of on-screen dialogue.   So, what have I reminded myself of today?

Have intent.  First, it is important to be steadfastly objective.  Define the goal or goals along the way.  Goal setting shouldn’t be done alone nor without talking and listening to those around you.  It is a process informed by horizon scanning, a good realistic look at what is possible, or not.  And be prepared to revisit goals and change them.  Make time to celebrate when goals are achieved before heading for the next one(s).

Own it.  In times of crisis and change, teams and organisations need leaders.  They need leaders who are objective, bring everyone with them, keep up their own motivation and that of others, and make the decisions people need, want and respect.  However hard, and emotional and difficult they are.  Now is the time to make decisions for the longer-term.  Whatever that may look like.  No one knows what will happen next of course, but you need to be fighting-fit for any scenario including the worst case one.

Connect.  You cannot do this alone, so you need to be bringing everyone with you.  Talk and listen with (not to) everyone in the team, those in the supplier chain, and customers.  Discuss and explore what is possible and what is not.  By doing that, your decisions will be better informed.  They might not always be the right ones, but they will be ones that you and everyone understands and has a committed stake in.  Here you gain support.  And keep communicating, keep sharing and talk about how things are going.  This will help identify things that need rethinking.

Keep it up.  Motivation that is.  Easier said than done.  Some days this will not be a problem at all.  On others you will feel like you are running on empty.  It helps I think to have your clear objectives, a team around you and to deploy your leadership behaviours.  Vision and goals allow you to look beyond daily challenges, but a realistic and achievable to do list for today is a great way of generating a sense of achievement.  That helps my motivation anyway.  Useful principles here are to focus on what is achievable and making sure you have a balance of what needs to be done, and what you like to do.

Decide.  Be able and prepared to make decisions quickly and now, and in the medium and longer terms.  Retain or grow the ability to change decisions based on evidence and your analysis.  Never decide on anything by evidence alone!  We need to examine, consider, and apply our business acumen to all decisions.  Be willing to take risks and be prepared for some of them to work.  And own them.  And be accountable to them to the team and to customers.  Keep talking, continue listening and your intent will benefit from it.  Then repeat.

Now to work.

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