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(Photo by Yury Kirillov on Unsplash)

Finding Lessons from the Pivots of 2020

New year. Clean slate. With a year like 2020, it’s tempting to move forward, never to look back.

Yes, 2020 had a significant negative impact on us all. Many people lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands lost their lives. Our society is faced with ugliness many people thought and hoped was long gone, and divisions seem to be deeper than ever. The marks left by the events of this past year will be etched into history books in ways we aren’t yet able to know.

Yet if we don’t look back, we would miss out on the value of the successes we had, the lessons we learned, and the amazing things we can carry forward. …

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(Photo courtesy Unsplash)

How do I plan for next year when I don’t know what’s next?

December is often filled with conversations regarding goal setting and strategic plans for the year ahead. As with all things 2020, end-of-year wrap-up and forward thinking and planning are just not going to be normal.

You aren’t the only one fumbling through strategy as we prepare for the “What are we doing next year?”

Last winter, my family and I spent a day in Wyoming on the ski slopes. After a successful day, tired and wind-blown, we buckled ourselves in for the drive home — normally a couple of hours. Not long after I turned onto the highway, snow started blowing so hard the road surface quickly vanished. …

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My extended team meetings are a disaster. What do I do?

Team meetings can provide clarity for what’s ahead. They can also be frustrating! It’s no fun to pull all your key people into a meeting room together and still not reach the goals you need.

We hear from many committed leaders who set out to rally their people in the right direction and call us after their self-facilitated retreat with: “There has to be a better way to do this online meeting thing!”

Here are a few fails we’ve seen people experience, along with a few remedies to make your time work well for everyone. …

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(Photo by Amy Lister on Unsplash)

I want to dive in to help my team but I’m already overloaded. What should I do?

Leaders are likely to have gone through many tough storms. It’s natural to want to jump in and take charge, as many leaders thrive on stepping up to the challenge.

Whenever I am thrust into or discover a challenge and dive in without really knowing how to solve it, I grow like crazy. But if I’m the first to dive in as the leader, I can rob others of the growth they — and the business — most need.

As you watch your employees struggle through this year’s choppy water, it may feel imperative to leap to the helm and take over. What if you’re preventing people’s best opportunity to grow? …

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(Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash)

I’m torturing myself and my team with online meetings. Help!

It’s a brave new world for every leader, even those who’ve done a lot of work with remote teams. My team and I hear from many leaders wondering whether they have the skills and ability to lead at a distance. You may not have the skills … yet. You haven’t done this before! This is an opportunity to learn, practice, and grow.

Humans need connection. Virtual connections are like breathing through a straw. You survive, yet breathing takes more work and is not very comfortable. …

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My employees aren’t working as team like they used to. What do I do?

Dear WDID,

I’m so glad you asked. Whether back in the office, back on the line, or working from home, we’re all faced with something that’s pulling us apart. Plexiglass, screens, and masks—while keeping us physically safe—create significant strain on our ability to connect.

Add on chronic stress, fear, and scarcity and it’s no wonder folks aren’t working together as well as they could.

Let’s refer to NYU psychologist Jonathan Haid and his idea of the elephant and the rider. The elephant is driven by emotion and instinct. The rider sitting on top, however, is rational and can see a path forward. …

How Business Leaders Can Meet the Moment Despite Uncertainties of COVID-19

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Dear No Handbook,

A few weeks ago, I participated in the virtual Mindfulness and Global Leadership Summit. Sky Jarrett, CEO of Transcend LLC and executive coach, shared a profound conversation with one of her clients that included a statement very similar to your question.

At one point during their weekly call, the leader was struggling with a particularly difficult issue and blurted out:

“I just don’t know what to do. There’s no guidebook for this!”

Here’s the good news for both you and them: No one else has a “How to lead through a pandemic” manual either. While the term “pandemic leadership” seems to be developing, few classes on leading through global crisis have been taught in business schools. Unfortunately, the books have yet to be written on what to do when revenue and opportunities dry up in a matter of days, nor do the business lessons from the 1918 pandemic seem to apply in this digital age. …

How to Encourage Authority and Accountability Among Workers

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My employees beg me to tell them what to do and then reject my direction. Gah!?!

Dear Rejected,

Your question made me take a deep breath in and then breathe out a big sigh. I feel your pain.

Welcome to “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” The good news is a lot of leaders end up here. You’re in good company.

More good news is your employees aren’t likely doing this to you intentionally. …

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Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Dear Asking For a Friend,

Ok, this is a tough one. And it’s very real for me right now, so I’m going to be thorough in my response.

A month ago I went through prostate cancer surgery while my team and I were coping with how to help people striving to be better leaders and team members when we can’t actually be in the same room.

The good news: My surgery was successful and my diagnosis is very good. (If you’re a man, I hope you get your PSA checked regularly. …

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(Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash)

It’s Time for Leaders to Listen for Understanding and Commit to Action

What you and I are experiencing right now in the world is both unprecedented and predictable. I believe you and I hold the key to bring people together and create a future that is better than where we are and where we’ve been.

This unraveling of our society and economy and how people treat each other exposes what has existed for a long time. A crazy confluence of global pandemic, stock market crash, sky-high unemployment, self-protective leaders, videos of Black people being killed in the street, protests, riots is exposing how our social and economic fabric was already torn.

No one knows the end state of these crises or the final impact on each of us. …


Chris Hutchinson

Helping leaders and teams get lasting results since 2002

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