In normal circumstances, leaders do (and should) bear a strong weight of responsibility for their followers. In fact, this responsibility can be so great that it’s not uncommon to hear leadership described as lonely. Few other, if any, individuals in an organization can understand the unique struggles of their leader. Another function that makes leadership lonely is once you are at the top, there’s no one above you are affirming your decisions and telling you “good job.” Your followers expect you know what you are doing and don’t need affirmation from them. These are just a few struggles with “everyday leadership”. Now add the responsibility of leadership as you navigating a global health crisis and many of us are in uncharted territory. As a bit of encouragement, here are five concepts to refocus your leadership during a time of upheaval.
Give yourself and your team grace
Chances are you are accustomed to being an extremely high performer and take a lot of pride in your ability to produce results. You’ve had several years to “learn the game” and figure out how to succeed in your current environment. But now… that environment doesn’t exist as it did. Realize the environment is different. No one in our lifetime has been through a pandemic with this much daily life interruption. Flexibility is an increasingly important skill and will be an essential tool as you navigate the next few weeks. Right now, many people are disoriented and trying to create a new normal both at work and at home. Things will settle down but embracing the idea that we are in a state of extreme disruption currently is key to managing long-term success for your employees. Your leadership response in a difficult time is an important retention tool for your highest performers right now.
Depending on the nature of your work, your ability to complete your current goals may be inhibited by current social distancing constraints. Instead of coming to a production standstill, what other things can you be accomplishing during this time? Are their company documents that need updating? Are their software/equipment updates to complete? Productivity doesn’t have to stop during this time, but your priorities may need to shift. A popular tool for determining priorities includes the urgent/important matrix. Using this matrix requires you to consider all of your tasks in a space of Important and Urgent. Focus on the tasks that are both important and urgent first. These tasks should be followed by Urgent/Not Important (and/or) Important/Not Urgent. This tool should help you sift though the Not Important/Not Urgent tasks.
Consider your “optimal productivity time”
The idea of getting in a solid 8am-5pm workday may seem impossible right now. Instead begin thinking about your day in a “time blocking method” of time management. To avoid frustration when synchronous work hours don’t happen, determine your most productive work hours available and be intentional about maximizing those times by blocking them out on your calendar. Perhaps, you have two hours during your children’s’ naptimes. Or it may mean getting up a little earlier than your family for uninterrupted time. Ideally, consider finding 2-3 pockets of time. In a perfect day, you are able to work in all three segments of time, but if not – there’s a better chance you have at least one block of time if you plan for multiple options for uninterrupted work time.
Additionally, consider the “most important thing (MIT)” time management tool. What is the one thing you must get done today? In their book, “The One Thing,” Gary Keller and Jay Papasan ask, “What’s the one thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
Communicate daily with your team
An easy way to continue to have normalcy in your workday is to communicate daily with your team. Whether by e-mail, phone or videoconferencing, communicate with your team and keep everyone posted on your projects and progress. Consider communicating at the same time each day to create a sense of consistency. Additionally, you may want to provide some sort of recap or digest of topics and information for those that may not be able to connect.
Reflect on your progress/system daily
At the end of the day, take a deep breath and reflect on your day. We know that without critical reflection, it’s difficult for adults to learn. What went well? What did you learn? What didn’t go as planned? Why? Options to practice reflection include talking through your day with a friend or significant other. You can also reflect through journaling. Bullet journaling offers a succinct way to get your thoughts on paper. Simply make a bulleted list of wins/surprises/mishaps. Celebrate the wins and manage the failures. Tomorrow is a new day. And you’re doing a great job.Read More
2020 – a new year, a new decade! The perfect season to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed. In the day-to-day rush of checking things off a to-do list and moving full steam ahead, it’s easy to lose sight of why it all matters. Our busyness keeps us focused on “what’s next”, but we must be intentional on remembering “why me, why now?” Simon Sinek does a great job sharing about Finding Your Why.
Why leave your business, your family, your responsibilities for 55 days to travel throughout Florida, the country and the world? Because we believe deeply in the future of Florida agriculture and natural resources. And we believe each of us has a responsibility to secure its future.
As part of Class XI’s responsibility to do their part, they spent time in Tallahassee and the Panhandle exploring the leadership theme of resiliency. Resiliency is a key component of individual leaders and broader industries. In Seminar II, we saw first-hand the hardiness needed to survive in both the policy arena of Tallahassee and in the rural fishing communities of The Forgotten Coast.
In her article, Why Resiliency is Necessary as a Leader , Amy Modglin outlines four key ideas related to resiliency. My favorite line in this article is “It is impossible to demonstrate resilience unless you have gone through difficult times.” If we remain focused on our “why” and understand difficult times build resilience (if we let them), then collectively we are a powerful force for agriculture and natural resources in our state.
Another exciting development for 2020 is WLI is hiring a leadership programs coordinator to assist with program development and support the Alumni Association of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute (AAWLI). We have three strong candidates interviewing in the next two weeks: Jennifer Facenda, Anne Schwartz and Rebecca Lovett. We are offering videoconferencing to the seminar part of their interviews to all current class members and alumni.
Enjoy Seminar II’s Wedgworth Wire!Read More
It’s not okay to be okay.Mr. Jeremy Foley, UF Athletic Director Emeritus
This statement shared at Class XI’s first seminar perfectly describes the sentiment of my first six months as program director. So many alumni and friends of the program have offered their support and have all been consistent in their message about the preeminence of this program. When I heard Jeremy Foley make this statement, it summed up my goal for the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources. It’s not okay to be okay.
For our industries to survive in today’s climate, “okay” doesn’t cut it. We must be the standard bearers for the leadership we want to see in Florida agriculture and natural resources. In reviewing the 63 applications for Class XI, it was evident that “okay” people weren’t nominated. We have a class of 30 individuals who represent 22 unique sub-sectors of the industry, from citrus to cattle to sod production. Class members also bring geographic diversity, representing 22 different counties across the state, from Calhoun to St. Johns to Miami-Dade.
Two individuals helping Janice and me ensure Class XI has a first-class experience are Brian Myers and Kevin Kent. Brian is the department chair for the UF/IFAS Agricultural Education and Communication Department and is serving in the role of faculty adviser for Class XI. Kevin is a doctoral student and serving as the program coordinator for Class XI. I’m thrilled to have both gentlemen on our team.
I hope you enjoy the first edition of Class XI’s Wedgworth Wire. We have changed the newsletter format just a bit in an effort to be responsive to digital content management. If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
My hope, as we approach 2020, is none of us will settle for simply “okay.” But rather continue to serve as high-impact leaders in our industries and communities and use our WLI network to support and advance Florida agriculture and natural resources.Read More