Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.

(Kevin Eikenberry)

The year 2020 started with a bang for us all and the promise of a fantastic year. 

The term 2020 Vision was used to highlight the promise this was going to be the year where vision became reality and positive things were coming.

2020 has been a lot tougher than most of us would like but there have been positive things to be thankful for.  We must remember tough times now can lead to positive outcomes in the future.

One area of my Walk into the Future where I really needed 2020 Vision was after accepting my role in Fort Pierce and discovering my entire team was working remotely.  Imagine moving to a new city during a pandemic, taking over a work environment and meeting your entire team on your laptop.  Strange times but quickly discovered all my leadership training, speaking, and consulting experience were needed for me to make positive things happen.

I have read a lot of leadership books and written multiple articles on authentic leadership.  There is not a manual on how to come in on day one and begin to lead a remote team.  Trust me, I searched for that book for days! 

You always want to make a great first impression, but it is tough to gauge your direct reports via a laptop screen.  Things are progressing but I continue to learn new tools and techniques daily.  2020 Vision has morphed into a new mantra to remain focused and control the controllable.

Teambuilding

A first step to build a great team is to ensure teambuilding is a central focus to get everyone on the same page and moving in the correct direction.  I have written about several teambuilding exercises we have completed (MBTI, The Energy Bus) and the need to help each team member grow professionally.  We completed these activities in a complete physical distancing environment where staff members engaged each other via computers from separate offices.  Let’s repeat that…we were together via a Zoom like application (Blackboard Collaborate), in different locations, and working on our teambuilding activities.  Not ideal but it can be done.

Never imagined this was possible but got the 2020 Vision to try this and tweak as needed.  We have been able to enhance team dynamics and maintain our physical distance from each other.  I continue to look for interactive ways to engage the team using computer technology and ensure we have fun with the process. 

Work schedules

2020 Vision allows me to understand the traditional concept of work schedules went out the window earlier this year.  Not saying people do not have to work but the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge work from home dynamic.  Jobs traditionally done within the office environment were rapidly transformed to work from home.  This was a major change for everyone, and work schedules had to change as well.  Gone were the typical 8 am – 5 pm work schedules since people had to juggle work, childcare, home schooling and a myriad of other tasks daily. 

I learned quickly when staff needed time to take care of their home life.  Also learned the work from home mindset is not the same for everyone.  Some folks are just as motivated working from home as they were in the office.  I came to understand that some are not as motivated working from home—human nature kicks in for these folks.

My role has evolved to ensure everyone can use the technology we have available to complete work assignments.  We needed to create communication channels to check in without being overly connected daily.  I am still learning and evolving in this area, but we are getting things done.

Mental well-being

My initial thoughts for this section was to write about helping my staff with their mental well-being.  We do that daily but one aspect I continue to focus on is my mental well-being.  My workouts and running program are great escapes for me from the daily grind of leading a team from a distance.  This new world of work seems to always have someone trying to schedule a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate meeting—they never stop! ☹😊

Finally had to tell some coworkers to ask before just jamming a virtual meeting on my calendar.  This is a constant reminder the world of work has changed—mostly for the good but there can be a bad side to always being connected.  I work to connect with my staff daily to make sure they are doing well.  I do not email, call, or text them after work hours to model behavior that honors a true work and life balance.  Small steps!

I am still learning how to operate in this new world of work. 

What techniques do you use to not be connected all the time?  How has your 2020 vision changed from earlier in the year?

 “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

Daily flowers—send them now!

Purple Rose

(Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay)

“Don’t wait for people to die to send them flowers”.

(Reverend Simmons, New Bethel AME Church)

It is amazing the things we retain from our childhood.  I attended weekly Sunday school and church services at New Bethel AME church while growing up in Jasper, FL.  I am sure Reverend Simmons said some other amazing things but the quote above always stuck with me.  Never understood it as a kid so maybe that is why it stuck with me all these years.

Thought it was a weird saying until I fully understood his meaning.  It can be interpreted multiple ways, but he was reminding us to cherish/celebrate the people in our lives while we have them.  Waiting for a tragic incident is a bit late to let people know what you think about them.

I decided to write this post 3 days after Kobe Bryant, his daughter and friends died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.  I am not much of an NBA fan but watched Kobe during his Hall of Fame NBA career and more intently after he retired.  He ventured into business, screen writing, venture capital investments and his sports academy as part of his life after basketball.  He became successful in these endeavors because he displayed a thirst for knowledge and sought out mentors to learn new things.  He continued to look for ways to get better and make a difference in the world.  Believe he was on the verge of expanding his portfolio in the entertainment world but never got a chance to complete this portion of his legacy.

I will not dive much further into Kobe’s life, but his unexpected passing brought me back to what Reverend Simmons reminded us EVERY Sunday—Do not wait for people to die to send them flowers. 

I use a lot of quotes in my daily Walk into the Future, but I am sure my tree branches have never heard me use this quote with them.  May seem weird to share so much with them but not this one aspect of my background.  Allow me to provide a bit of clarity and how I leverage the quote in all my interactions.

I take my role as a tree seriously and believe I should model positive things for my tree branches.  I also want to continue to make a difference daily.  So, I provide theoretical flowers every day to my people!

I make a point to text, call, email, LinkedIn, visit or carrier pigeon (LOL) someone daily to provide them their flowers.  May look like:

  • Happy Monday!
  • Happy Friday!
  • Go (insert name)!
  • How are you?
  • How are your students doing?
  • How’s the family?

I could add more to the list but believe you get the message.  It may be small things but once I understood what Reverend Simmons was telling us I discovered a ton of ways to provide flowers daily.  Some of you may prefer real flowers but I cannot afford the daily costs so guess you will have to be happy with my texts, calls, emails, LinkedIn, visits and hopefully those dang pigeons arrive soon! 😊

So, do me a favor, look around and identify who you need to send flowers to and get busy!  Thank you!

“It’s the one thing you can control.  You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t.  So, don’t take it lightly”.

(Kobe Bryant)

“Live for yourself and you live in vain; live for others and you will live again”.

(Bob Marley)

 Happy Mother’s Day!!!

 

My favorite thing about me!

Mirror

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom”.

(Michel de Montaigne)

My efforts to create content for the Walk into the Future blog finds me conducting research in multiple locations.  I’m an avid reader so of course books, online articles and other blogs catch my attention daily.  The goal is to generate fresh content others would be willing to read and share with their network.  Always seeking additional content ideas as I Walk into the Future.

Came across an interesting guide during my research phase called 365 Days of Writing Prompts which was created by the Word Press editors to prompt bloggers with inspiration to write every day.  Some of the prompts are an attempt to give bloggers a vault of topics which hopefully leads to finished articles.

I incorporate daily thoughts, conversations and events into Walk into the Future blog posts so most of the Word Press prompts are just things for me to view—not looking to write without a real purpose since this would not help promote my why on the blog.

Found a few of the Word Press prompts interesting enough to put aside to see if I could develop a future blog post.  The following prompt is my first post using the Word Press guide:

  • Toot your horn: Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

Perseverance is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success (Dictionary.com).

I’ve talked about superpowers and leveraging my why to make a positive difference in the world.  My favorite thing about myself at this point in my Walk into the Future is my perseverance.

My goal is to tackle each day with positive energy as I continue to move forward in the world.  Would like to say things always go my way but that’s not true or a realistic outcome.  I continue to persevere even when things don’t follow the plan; my positive energy mantra allows me to quickly regroup, make new plans (pivot) and then move forward.

The Walk into the Future title was selected for the blog because it gives me purpose and enhances how I interact with others daily.

Perseverance in my daily Walk into the Future allows me to continue to focus on how my words, thoughts, actions and why lead to small wins daily.  The win could simply be a comment from one of my tree branches, family or blog followers, but it provides the positive energy to strive to do more in this world.

So, there it is, perseverance is my favorite thing about myself!  Will continue to work on projects and topics to incorporate my why to see where this journey leads.  Always striving for positive energy and outcomes in everything I touch—Irie mindset daily!

What is your favorite thing about yourself?  How do you display your favorite thing to others?  Thanks for walking with me!

“A true genius admits he/she knows nothing”.

(Albert Einstein)

Guest Blogger Friday: Melissa Forges

Guest Blogger Friday Villages

(Image by Magdalena Smolnicka from Pixabay)

Today my guest blogger is Melissa Forges who is one of my closest tree branches.  Melissa will be featured here for Guest Blogger Friday:

Villages:  A success factor

When you think about the factors that have helped you become successful, which one stands out?

For me it’s my villages. My personal villages always come to mind because it’s through the support, resources, and encouragement I continuously receive, that enable me to thrive in the many areas of my life. I strongly believe a community has the power to cheerlead you to persevere and be the candor, the frank wisdom you need to be guided in a specific direction. A group of people, whether you call it a village, or another name can be a success factor in your career and life as you Walk into the Future with others by your side.

As the old proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”, so if child rearing, a noble yet daunting responsibility requires additional input and involvement, how much so for career, relationships, and other complex areas in our lives as well. The good news is there’s no boundary on what topic a village can be created around, how many villages you can be a part of, how many people in the village or how long it needs to last (it may serve for a specific purpose or time frame). The one ingredient is all must share the core identification of the group.

My villages are casual mom-groups to professional development organizations – and everything in between.

I’m part of a text-chat group with a handful of former coworkers and friends where we send jokes, encouragement, and levity during hectic work weeks. Another village is one that’s online via Facebook with 11,000+ members to provide networking opportunities, idea sharing and a safe space to feel heard and represented in our chosen career field.

Although I treasure all my villages as they are all unique, I appreciate one at work where we meet periodically throughout the day, especially at the end of the day to “check-in”, give feedback and provide advisement for each other’s projects and challenges, like a village think tank. The sincere support and sisterhood help each of us to shine, and I find that uplifting.

As one village makes me shine, another makes me sweat! This group of hard-working women are as diverse as they come but we all meet up three times a week, keep each other accountable and inspire one another to attain our fitness goals. I’ll never forget when we were tasked to plank for three sets of 60 seconds after an intense workout. Seems easy right? Well, not for me at that time! My arms were shaking from fatigue, sweat was dripping, and I was about to throw the towel in – but my village was not about to let that happen. Everyone began shouting my name and for me to not give up. I didn’t realize I needed a boost, but I sure used their energy and felt determined and was able to complete the exercise enthusiastically. The village helped me achieve the plank goal, shaky arms and all. It wasn’t about the planks; it was the group that helped me stay focused to achieve more than I thought I could in the moment.

That’s what villages can do. They call you higher to exist above mediocrity; they provide insight you may need for a decision or help you stay on your toes so to speak. Also, as villages call you higher, they become clusters of family whether they’re in-person or virtual because at the base of a village are the people, you’re building relationships with.

You may be in several villages and didn’t even know it. Think about the groups you periodically interact with and how you mutually serve one another. If you cannot think of one, maybe you can create one and it can even be online. Start with an interest or skill you enjoy or would like to develop. For example, it can be sports, business, or a hobby. You’ll find there are people, village people (pun intended) out there just like you looking to make a connection. Get out there and “raise a child”, metaphorically speaking, and build villages to incorporate into your success factor for life, career, and beyond!

What village(s) are you a part of?  How has your village helped your success?  If you’re not a part of a village, what type of village can you create?

Thank you Melissa for your outstanding insight on villages!

Follow Melissa here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mforges/

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