With our lives completely up-ended with the COVID-19 virus, it has put uncertainty in how we perform our work, how we work on our team and how we lead our teams. What we can do to put some positive into this time is invest in our personal development as a leader. In fact, it is a time that we need to be in high learning mode to define our new future state. For almost a decade, executives have been reading articles from thought leaders and hearing futuristic speakers at conferences predict the move to a “virtual” workplace.
We are now living the virtual workplace having had no time to prepare for it. Progressive executives and organizations are continuing to develop their high performers and current executives by continuing to provide executive coaching. One piece of good news amidst the chaos is that executive coaching has been delivered effectively in a distance format for several years. With the ease of video conferencing now available, coaching remains as effective as meeting in-person.
I will share one example of Burt, an executive whom I have been coaching for 18 months in NYC while I am based in Chicago. Burt is focusing his goals on developing leadership skills for a future promotion to the head of a division. We schedule 60 – 90 minute sessions every three weeks using video conferencing. Using this technology, we have developed the same depth of connection as we would with in person meetings. We collaborate with visual aids, e.g. drawing models or diagrams as if we were in the same room. Since his company is an “essential business” there has been a fair amount of turbulence and disruption over the past two months as he has been leading his team through the chaos and ambiguity. He continues to reinforce that the coaching is beneficial in providing him a resource to test ideas and challenge him to think differently during this extraordinary time. The organization is continually modifying their work environment to keep their employees safe and still meet their productivity goals which is requiring Burt and the other leaders to stay flexible and nimble in the leadership of their teams.
As we are settling into our virtual environment, the suspected challenge, when do we get back to our standard normal, will be providing the leadership development support to our leaders of the organization.
My recommendation is following Burt’s lead; the time is now for three reasons:
- employees have more flexibility of their time to focus on their development
- leaders are faced with new challenges in keeping their virtual teams productive
- when this crisis is over, there will likely be need for additional leaders in all of our organization