How you lead is not business as usual

Part 1: Re-imaging ways-of-working as a remote leadership team.


The world is far from business as usual and will likely be forever changed. Four weeks ago, my partner and I were on our way to France and Italy in May. Fast forward one short month and whole communities have been devasted. Cities and countries are locking down and vacations are cancelled indefinitely. Closer to home, we are practicing social distancing. Schools are closing and parents are being called upon to home-school their children - possibly for the rest of the school year. Those with elderly parents are concerned for their needs and well-being. Those with immune deficiencies carry a heightened concern for personal health and safety.  On top of this, our “work life” is coming into our homes at an unprecedented rate with little to no adjustment period and no agreed-upon norms. As a leader and member of a work community, you will undoubtedly “show up” to work with new needs during this time of unprecedented change. You and every member of your leadership team will hold different beliefs, expectations and assumptions about what things “should” look like and what you as the leader, the team and the organization need to be doing. If you don’t discuss them, they may overshadow you, create undue stress and damage trust at a time where connection, trust and positivity are so desperately needed.  The first step is to revisit your formal and informal team principles or working agreements to ensure you are set up to be effective, productive and positive in this new reality.  I adapted a working agreements tool that I use with clients and new teams to help you re-image your current working agreements. It should take you between 60-90 minutes depending on the size of your team. Set up Have someone capture notes that everyone can see. Have each person answers each question. All voices need to be heard. Your role as the leader is first to listen, then contribute if you feel something is missing. Guided Questions

  • Start by understanding what might you need to know about the others on the team that you didn’t know before. Ask each team member to share what this situation means for them. You might learn that a co-worker is taking shifts with their partner to care for children or is taking care of an elderly neighbour or is struggling with anxiety. Consider starting each day asking your team to share how they are feeling and what they might need from this team. 

  • Re-establish what your shared interest or outcome is as a team. What is your most important work now, mid-term and long-term? What would success look like for this team? 

  • What would the worst-case scenario look like?

  • What’s the best way for this team to work together to achieve success? How will you act? How will you communicate? 

  • What does this team need to be mindful of to avoid the worst-case?

  • What permissions does each of us want from the other? 

  • What will we do when things get hard?

  • How will we hold each other accountable for making this work?

At the end of the exercise, you will have a new working agreement and a way to hold each other responsible for making it work. Keep it present in the minds of your team members by checking-in on a regular basis.   Living your agreements. A daily-stand up is a great place to check-in. After all, things are evolving rapidly, as will the needs of the team you lead. Consider asking:

  • What is working and what is not?

  • What do we need to change?

Give it a try and see how your new working agreements can support your new reality. 


Quick Reads

A Guide for Working (From Home) Parents (HBR)

A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers (HBR)

The Leader’s Guide To Managing COVID-19 Panic (Forbes) Podcast

Managing the Stress and Uncertainty of Coronavirus


Don't miss out on the next Reach Your Peak. Subscribe and be among the first to receive leadership tips and tools that will help you lead with your greatest potential.

About Me.

My work connects me with some pretty amazing humans. As clients, they have an insatiable curiosity about themselves and the impact they make. They harness the courage to move outside their comfort zone to challenge their learning edge and they make an unwavering commitment to their own personal transformation.


Don't miss another Reach Your Peak.

You're in! Next month's Reach Your Peak will be delivered directly to your inbox.