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Managing in a time of Covid, Economic Chaos, and Racial Inequity

Posted by on February 19, 2021 at 9:00 PM


This week as I attended virtually staff meetings, board meetings, committee meetings, check-ins, and zoom with friends and family, I heard a common comment. “Our people are exhausted!”

The next question is, “ What action can we take?” I have heard a range of suggestions. No meeting days, shut the business for a day, listening sessions, send snacks, put off non-essential tasks, set hours for email and work, lower expectations. You could see tempers flare and accountability waiver.

How about we do our job as managers and get back to the basics?

Does your team have a work plan? Do they know where the firm is going? Do they know their role? Are they rolling that plan throughout the organization? Do they know their talent, really know their people? Do they understand the guardrails and what they can and cannot do to provide flexibility and options with the responsibilities and results they own along with their team? Do you empower them to act?

Does your team bicker, or do they problem-solve? Do they acknowledge challenges and share the impacts of decisions? Will they name elephants and admit they are challenged? Are they quiet in the tough crucial conversations? Will they ask for help? A focused and empowered team can move mountains and, in their own way, deal with Covid, economic chaos, and racial inequality on both an individual and larger scale. Your team can be exhausted and helpless, or focused, empowered, and moving the needle.

But, do you set the tone?

We can live in the doom and gloom of 2020 or choose to thrive and drive change. You can lower expectations, or you can set them. You can drift, or you can set direction. You can tell people what to do, or you can lead them. Lead by spending time listening, getting their recommendations, and jointly problem-solving. Giving permission to be balanced and show flexibility in these times and still meet expectations. Clearly communicate and be clear-eyed to the challenges and open to listening. What is the plan, what are our goals, and how do you see your role? Be a leader by being a solid manager. Talent is what drives an organization, and leadership and management are what curates and enables talent.

The essence of Muddy Boot is to be in the field and to ask two questions, how are we doing, and what can we do better? In these times, I would add, how are you doing and how can I help?

Covid, economic chaos, and racial inequity are huge issues, and they can suck the life out of an organization, let alone a nation. Still, there is only one way to meet and address these historic challenges. Yes, people are exhausted and overwhelmed. Rather than seeking one-off silver bullets that feel good but don’t deliver long-term impacts, let us look in the mirror. And see the work of basics leadership and solid management, by defining and communicating a North Star, creating a plan, setting expectations, supporting the team, and creating joint accountability for performance and balance. Focus drives performance, and performance drives and enables change.

A rising tide lifts all boats. We can drift, or we can steer.


Categories: Leadership, Muddy Boots, Griffith Thoughts

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