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Harvard Business Review: How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Harvard Business Review: How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too

Harvard Business Review: How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too

Read How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, from Harvard Business Review, December 15, 2020.

I am tired. The extravert inside me craves seeing people. The energy that I used to get from people during the day isn’t the same through a Zoom call, so I have less and less energy to stay focused. And I know I am not alone in this feeling.

It feels like the whole world is tired. Even though the vaccine shines a light at the end of the tunnel, the home stretch will be long and perhaps take a greater toll on our professional and personal lives than we expect it to.

To move through the second wave successfully, leaders need to reexamine their personal resilience and that of their team members: the ability and strength to overcome obstacles, bounce back, and recover in the face of challenges. How strong are you under pressure? How quickly do you bounce back from defeat?

Most importantly: How can you find the mental strength to lead through the last mile?

by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, from Harvard Business Review, December 15, 2020

The author, Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg from the Harvard Business Review, gives some advice on how to make it through the final stretch of this wave. Below are excerpts from her suggestions.

Cultivate Personal Resilience

“Cultivating resilience requires some emotional rewiring and calls for a different kind of appeal to team members and colleagues. The essential task is to identify your biggest challenges over the next year and then tap the psychological stamina you and your team needs to get there. There are three key steps: understanding the difference between urgency and importance; balancing comfort with containment; and finding new ways to energize yourself and others.”

Understanding Urgency vs. Importance

“The way ahead may be to follow the example of a CEO I advise. Even though her business has been successful throughout Covid-19, she chose not to rest on her laurels but to ask: “How do we turn the short-term momentum into long-term advantages?” She asked her executive team to come up with ideas for the future and set up a task force with high-performing talents from across the organization. Specifically, she asked them to consider the steps they could take here and now, steps that would in the years to come eventually become longer-term competitive advantages.

“Another approach would be to ask yourself and your colleagues whether you are in fact fully prepared for the feeding frenzy that will inevitably kick off in the wake of the vaccine. Companies will clamor to win back lost business and reclaim lost customers.  For many businesses, dealing with the aftermath will be just as intense as dealing with the crisis.

“Ask yourself and your teams: Are you doing all you can do to emerge from the crisis as a stronger company? The window for change may be closing and the time to turn good intentions into action is now.”

Balancing Compassion and Containment

“Leaders need to be serious about mental wellbeing and intervene sooner rather than later. This means that your employees need more warmth and comfort than they might have prior to the pandemic. But you can’t soothe your team with spreadsheets and plans; that takes listening and daring to stay in the hardest moments –daring to talk about doubt and discomfort — instead of skipping ahead to the next item on the agenda.

“There are a couple of ways to approach this. One involves saying “I don’t know” or sharing your own feelings of discomfort. I see an enormous difference in leaders who express their insecurities because it goes both ways: When you dare to tell your team about the issues you struggle with, they will follow suit.

“Compassion, though, must be balanced with containment. Containment is described by IMD professor Anand Narasimhan as “the ability to observe and absorb what is going on around you, but to provide a sense of stability.” Stability comes from setting limits, raising the bar, keeping the pressure at the optimal level, and helping each other snap out of self-pity and moodiness.

“In fact, too much caring and compassion can drive people into a learned helplessness trap, believing that they can’t perform without help and support from others. As the father of modern positive psychology professor Martin Seligman demonstrated, we experience learned helplessness when we face uncontrollable and inescapable stress. We simply stop trying to respond to dangers and passively accept whatever harm befalls us.”

Energize Everyone, Every Day

“The key is to get the energy flowing and never accept that meetings and interactions become stale or boring. Energy is not a given and must be generated and channeled internally. For example the LEGO Group has defined the goal to “Energize Everyone, Every Day” as a central leadership principle.

“There are many ways to energize: Sharing success stories, setting up competitions, dividing long projects into sprints, communicating. But also shortening endless zoom meetings, cutting tumbleweed projects, and allowing constructive conflicts and honest feedback in your teams. How you do it matters less. That you do it matters immensely.”

Continue reading How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, from Harvard Business Review, December 15, 2020.


Inside Higher Ed: Are Colleges Superspreaders?

Read Are Colleges Superspreaders? by Lilah Burke, from Inside Higher Ed, January 15, 2021.


Fast Company: What I learned from talking to 20 diversity, equity, and inclusion experts

Read What I learned from talking to 20 diversity, equity, and inclusion experts by Albrey Brown, from Fast Company, January 8, 2021.

I worked in diversity education in higher education for over a decade. It’s a complex area of any industry, because it deals with the people doing the work, rather than the work itself. It can be hard to create change that tries to elevate some, which can be seen as diminishing others.

And yet, in 2021, every industry will need to reckon with its role in making progress. Because without people, no industry can survive. Below are areas for growth for those working within diversity, equity and inclusion work across a variety of industries.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are outgrowing Human Resources

DE&I leaders are eager to increase their scope and impact on the business. This shift requires bigger teams, stronger relationships with non-HR and recruiting functions, and a new vision for where the function sits within an organization:

  • Our teams will expand
  • We will broaden our scope and impact
Metrics that Matter

The majority of leaders are focused on metrics that quantify the health of the organization, and the strength of their initiatives. Common metrics include:

  • Frequency, and specificity
  • Leadership demographics
  • Engagement survey data
Unique Metrics that Matter

Each industry can also track the following metrics, as they matter within the organization for review:

  • Referral pipeline diversity
  • Total available market of talent
  • Employee Resource Group engagement
Continuous demographic data collection

There is an eagerness to collect, analyze, and report on progress consistently (my gut says reporting once a month is average). To that end, some leaders ask employees to fill out demographic surveys within their first 2 weeks with the company. Others are asking candidates to self-identify multiple times throughout their interview process.

Meeting at the Intersections

While gender and ethnicity are important, about half of leaders are expanding their focus to the intersections of identity and tracking quantifiable goals and metrics that cover said intersections—for example, one leader was interested in increasing the number of queer women of color at her organization. 

  • Employee Resource Groups are evolving
  • Abolishing free labor
  • Focusing on business impact
  • Career growth and development
A New Way to Think About Goals

DE&I goals have always been difficult to set and benchmark against. Leaders have learned that progress takes time and are cautious about setting unrealistic, narrowly focused, goals. Instead they’re breaking down goals by department and focusing on frequent, incremental, progress.

  • Progress over perfection
  • Goals are no longer one-size-fits-all.
  • Praise for the Rooney Rule

Continue reading What I learned from talking to 20 diversity, equity, and inclusion experts by Albrey Brown, from Fast Company, January 8, 2021.


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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