At the core of The Helmsman Project are two fundamental methodologies that underpin the success of our impact on young people. These are experiential learning and the reflective process our coaches facilitate. Put simply, our participants go through challenging, thought-provoking, stretching experiences, supported by facilitated reflections which helps them to draw meanings from those experiences and apply their lessons to their everyday lives.
Taking this approach and applying it to the concept of leadership, I can’t think of a greater (in scale) experience to learn from than what COVID has provided us with. I have been reflecting on the leadership lessons COVID has taught me (and continues to). Here they are...
1. Seek and celebrate small wins: positivity breeds positivity; in times when everything is uncertain, being able to create small wins and amplify those by making them visible and celebrating can make a world of difference on my moral, motivation, outlook
2. Adjusting my expectations: what’s ‘normal’ changed, so I needed to adjust my expectations, and be authentic, understanding and kind to myself and others in doing so
3. Self-care: this comes hand in hand with adjusting my expectations… when the day was a bit more gloomy than usual, I needed to look after myself twice as much and ensure I listened to my mind, body and heart and gave them the extra care they needed (even if that meant taking things a bit easier one day and going for that extra long breath of fresh air!)
4. Be open, honest, inclusive: many studies have shown the role ‘certainty’ plays in helping people feel safe, confident, ready to act. But a situation like a pandemic creates a lot of uncertainty. I doubled my communication efforts - I remained transparent, honest and open, and involved my team in decisions and processes. All this helped to create more certainty and understanding
5. Look to the future: COVID is forcing us to adapt and innovate. It’s not the time to stay still, we must seek opportunities to create a better future for our businesses, people, families
6. Listen… in seeking those opportunities for a better future, we need to listen to our peers, colleagues, customers as the source of knowledge, inspiration and collaboration
7. Create a community of support: it is often said ‘it’s lonely at the top’... but the reality is, we’re not alone! Being able to form communities of support - whether that be in our sector, position, friendship circle - can be tremendous in supporting us to process experiences, share, learn and see opportunities. I’ve been blessed with such communities through COVID and it is something I will continue to seek in my professional life
8. Focus on my values: they help guide my attitude, actions and decisions
Reflecting on our experiences is such an important way to continue to learn and develop as human beings. 2020, thus far, has been rich in opportunities to learn. I know I will continue to draw more lessons as the months unfold and I would be delighted to read what your lessons have been thus far. Feel free to drop me a line - let’s learn together!