How to Reignite Your Energy to Rebuild Your Post Covid Business
I recently read and shared a HBR article called How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted and You are too. It really resonated with clients, so many of whom have shared that they feel like they are emotionally and psychologically on their last legs. Whilst some are undoubtedly suffering from the usual post-Christmas malaise that many succumb to (I certainly live with an element of Seasonally Adjusted Disorder or SAD in January and February and long for the lighter nights and the warmer weather), but there is also a level of exhaustion that comes from feeling responsible, not just for the survival of their businesses but the livelihoods and mental well being of their staff. A year of endless Zoom calls, creating online pick-me-up events and committing to regular check ins with those living with the uncertainty of furlough or struggling with living at home alone has taken its toll.
If this sounds like you or your team, I’d like to share my six top tips for leaders in the last throws of lockdown which I hope will help you to emerge into the post-Covid new world order, stronger, faster and ready to take on the competition.
Tip 1: Turn Your Values into Clearly Defined Behaviours
Your team is entering the final phase of the war. They need to know what winning this last battle will look like, feel like and to get excited about post-Covid. They need 100% clarity and discipline around the behaviours and mindset that will ensure they are on the winning team. It’s worth checking out Patty McCord’s book ‘Powerful – Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility’ which tells the story of how Netflix ripped up the rule book for leading people and built the business around a disciplined approach to overcoming challenges and building their culture. During McCord’s reign as
Chief People Officer, the company turned its values into a set of behaviours that continuously enabled their staff to overcome the competition and win. Netflix’s Culture Slide Deck has been viewed over 15 million times and its principles are used by thousands of businesses who want to build their own values led companies. Ask yourself and your staff, what are the green light behaviours that we will use to underpin your company values – and then get disciplined around delivering them!
Tip 2: Establish a New, Compelling Short Term Vision
When people have no forward propulsion they get bored. When people have no forward propulsion, it gives them greater time for introspection and this self-analysis can cause them to be prone to greater stress and anxiety. I feel certain that too much support and not enough constructive challenge has had a significant impact on the mental health of our workforces. Your job as a leader is to lift your team’s eyes from their navels, give them a 3-dimensional vision of what the new future can be, help them to understand the role that they can play in creating that future, the behaviours that you expect of them and let them get to work with delivering it. Giving people the opportunity to get focused on a compelling vision and encouraging them to set about creating it can do wonders for both their and your motivation and energy levels.
Tip 3: Gear Up and Get Ready!
It will be a bunfight once we get out of lockdown as businesses struggle to regain the ground they’ve lost. Now is the time to get innovative and challenge your teams to come up with the best ideas for: beating the competition; new innovations to plug the gaps in shifts in your clients buying patterns; delivering exceptional customer service; igniting interest from your prospects and going hard on both your online and offline marketing. Set up small project teams and get them to brainstorm and develop the best ideas into coherent, time bound tactical plans. Set up review sessions so that they can review progress with their peers and share ideas for overcoming challenges. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes and stimulate creative discussions that bring the best out of people. It’s time to gear up and make this really personal. It’s time to find the fun in bringing creativity and energy back into the business!
Tip 4: Build Your Own Psychological and Physical Energy
You used up your ‘Usain Bolt Energy’ during lockdown one. Now it’s time to be Mo Farah. Discipline is what will get you through. Farah admits that he isn’t technically the best long-distance runner, but he is the one that gets up, trains every day whatever the weather, manages his fuel intake and continuously asks himself, ‘what will make me a better athlete?’ He manages his psychological state as well as his physical one. He has a long-haul mindset rather than a sprinter one. Great leaders do the same and recognise that in order to be fit to lead, you need to be fit to lead! They create the conditions for clear headed thinking, give themselves space for downtime and recognise that what they put into their body will have an impact on what they get out of it. Would you show up and expect to perform well in running a marathon if you’d downed 5 pints and had pizza and chips for breakfast? Get focused on doing what it takes to build a healthy mind, fuelling up for better decisions and creative thinking.
Tip 5: Sleep – the Crucial Ingredient
Dr Matthew Carter explains in his TEDX Talk The Science of Sleep and Productivity that the greatest impact that you can have on the quality of the work you do, your creativity, your productivity and your decision making as a leader is to focus on your sleep habits. For me, as a lifelong insomniac, watching his TED Talk revolutionised the way I thought about sleep and its impact on my performance as a leader. If you want to improve the quality of your sleep you have to really commit to developing a habitual routine and stick with it. It took about a month for me but it has paid dividends. Here’s a few things that have helped – hugely:
– No screen time an hour before bedtime
– No caffeine after 3.00p.m.
– No eating after 8.00p.m.
– Drink a cup of Pukka Night Time Tea 2 hours before bed time
– Keep a note book by your bed to write down the things that churn through your head so
that you can let them go
– Reading before bed time – a paperback book or a tablet that isn’t back lit. The downward
movement of your eyes as you read your book encourages sleep.
– Use lavender foot balm just before bedtime – this was my best Christmas present ever!
– Doing a HeadSpace meditation at the end of your working day
Don’t worry if you fall out of your routine and have what you perceive to be a rubbish night’s sleep. You can always start again tomorrow. Matt Walker, the author of ‘Why We Sleep’ says we shouldn’t get hung up about waking in the night. We sleep in 90-minute cycles, so focus on the quality and not the quantity.
Tip 6: Be Accountable
Too much support and not enough challenge is unhealthy for your team and can lead to learnt helplessness – the inability to make decisions or solve their own problems without input from others. Whilst you have to stop being the ‘go to guy or girl’ with all of the answers for your staff and to ask better questions to get them to stand on their own two feet, you also need someone to hold you to account. This might be a coach, a mentor, a critical friend whom you trust or another director in the business. Who can you offload to and put the challenges you face into perspective to help you to catch your second wind? Invest in a coach who will hold your fingers to the fire and challenge you to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
Take the time to invest in yourself and fall back in love with your business. Remember why you were excited about setting it up or taking it on in the first place and re-build your brand, stronger, better, more disciplined and more resilient than ever before.
For more information about building your leadership or management capability, growing your business and our executive coaching programmes contact Lily@morganjamesconsulting.co.uk