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A note to those who lead

How to lead your team through the 2nd wave

Volume XIII: October 2020

Hi there, Is your team exhausted?  Are you feeling pretty drained yourself? The adrenaline that pushed you through the first wave is depleted, and the dark, dreary days of winter are on our doorstep. So, what now? As we all enter a new phase of COVID-19, your leadership is about to be tested once again.  There is no playbook. Whether you realize it or not, you are writing it by your behaviours and actions moment to moment. That is both the good and the bad news. As a manager, it’s time to be intentional. Our relationship with work is changing and the time is now to be deliberate about what you want this new relationship to be.  But what is it that you, as a manager, can control or influence? It might be more than you think. Here are five things to consider as we enter the second wave:

  1. Schedule a tune-up. Don’t assume what you are doing now will be enough or even the right thing as the current situation evolves. In the words of Peter Drucker, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”  A full return to the workplace is becoming more distant, hybrid teams and remotely onboarded team members are becoming a new norm. Engage your team to evaluate what might now be required to reach your collective goals. What do you need to stop doing? Do less of? Keep doing? Start doing? Do more of?

  2. De-prioritize for smaller teams. Focus on that what's absolutely essential and give permission to your team to drop or pause everything else. As a result of COVID-19, many organizations are working with a smaller workforce without a similar reduction of responsibilities or scope. Less visible is the reduction in productivity due to the blending of boundaries between work and home and increased stress. Someone’s 100% today may not be what they have previously been able to give. 

  3. Re-assess team norms. What got you here may not get you where you want to be. Are your team norms still serving their stated purpose? What might need to change as the cooler weather sets in and our lives shift once again? Pay particular attention to how team norms may make it more challenging for certain groups: mothers, senior-level women and Black and Indigenous women. (For more on this, read Women in the Workplace 2020 from McKinsey and

  4. Check-ins. Balance completion with compassion. Re-engage in learning what each individual on your team wants and needs from you. Give space to the emotions they feel. It is normal for us to feel upset, frustrated and depressed about what is happening and to be fearful and worried about the future. Help them to look for new stories about what is possible and what resources they might have available to them.

  5. Distribute leadership. Leading should not have to be all on you. Serve as a multiplier. Look for members of your team who have the skill and the will to take on a leadership role for various initiatives. Not only will it lighten your workload, but it will empower and develop skills in others. 

When your team describes this time, how will they remember your leadership? All the best, Emily


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