The Great Reconsideration
By now, we’ve all heard about the Great Resignation.
People are leaving jobs to find one that has more personal meaning. Young people are leaving for better benefits, including help with financial planning. Others are finding their side-hustle was more reliable during the pandemic than their day job and more satisfying to build. All in all, work looks different as we begin to come out on the other side of COVID. The isolation and uncertainty we’ve felt have led us to deeply question what we are doing and how we are doing it right down to the core of sustaining ourselves and our families.
Perhaps it is the Great Reaction as employers scramble to figure out how to keep their best people, but the result is a Reconsideration of essential leadership skills. In an interview with Karen Mangia, VP at Salesforce, SoundsTrue CEO, Tami Simon put it this way –
“While some people call them soft skills, in reality, they are actually the hardest to learn and master. With the hardest skills, we learn how to be self-aware and monitor our reactivity. We learn how to emotionally hold space for each other. We learn to empathize with the difficulties people are experiencing, even if they are occurring outside of the workplace —…Management and leadership training is going to include and emphasize the mastery of these hardest of skills, which are the skills of compassion, authenticity, and open-heartedness.”
And isn’t it about time?
Astute leaders have always known that people don’t respond well to being coerced, bullied, or told what to do. By building authentic relationships leaders understand what their teams care about and get productivity and they build purpose into their models. However, to build those relationships you can’t just decide, “I’m going to be authentic now.” That’s not…well…authentic. Authenticity requires something more.
Building the skills of compassion, authenticity, and open heartedness starts with the Intention to see people as humans rather than parts of the business cog. The pandemic has helped us with some of that. We are more forgiving of life’s minor interruptions like children and pets marching into a meeting with the boss. We show ourselves in our environments, and even if we use a ZOOM background, the way our hair fades in and out makes it obvious it’s a virtual background, not a penthouse apartment. We are human beings with all our frailty, and we have found that is mostly ok with us.
It will be hard to put a lid on this Pandora’s box, and if business leaders are wise, they won’t try to. Instead, they will consider how they communicate with their employees – even if they feel they have already mastered “the hardest skills.” Right now, everyone could stand to listen more and talk less. We can share heart and meaning through common experiences and emotional connections when we have conversations. As leaders, it’s an excellent time to become so aware of what matters to employees that we build it into company cultures and celebrate it. Those actions springing from the Intention to see the humanity in people will build the skills of compassion, authenticity, and open heartedness to get us through the challenges we face today and better prepare us for the future.
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