In this most unusual year, leaders learned to react fast and adapt to an environment of uncertainty,change, and remote work. We asked the Signal community — past speakers at our annual conference and you, our readers — to give us deep thoughts on managing through unusual times. Here’s what they said.
Change #1: Leaders took the time to prioritize connection with their teams, in structured and unstructured ways.
Our team religiously has Monday staff meetings and it’s been great to see everyone’s faces (virtually, of course) and make sure everyone is on the same page. In the past, it might have fallen off the calendar as schedules became chaotic. Now it’s a non-negotiable window of time on Monday afternoons, everyone finds a way to make it work, and we value being in sync. — Katie Couric, Katie Couric Media
I schedule quick 1:1s to stay connected individually and have created more time to talk about career development. Transparency is necessary, especially in the difficult topics. It’s important to stay candid and keep the team informed. — Brian Monahan, Dentsu
I have tried to make it clear through my leadership that our team and our partners come first, and we believe that if we can support our team members and our partners successfully through this time then our business will succeed over the long term. I’ve also dramatically increased the frequency of communication with our entire team which has helped us to stay coordinated and focused on our goals even though we’re apart. — Evan Spiegel, Snap
Change #2: Empathy and listening became an important tool in collectively navigating the way forward.
Physical isolation has transformed managerial environments, creating a greater need for empathy. I assume that every employee, supplier, customer, and colleague faces challenges from the pandemic that I cannot see. In the absence of the physical cues that are apparent with face-to-face contact, it is more important than ever to listen carefully. — Roger McNamee, Elevation Partners
Personally speaking, my deepest change has been the way I prioritize the different aspects of my life and work. I have importantly increased my level of compassion (to others and to me) and empathy as the main leadership skills and I am focused more than ever in understanding the personal needs of the organization I work with versus the business basics. I have learned to really listen to understand versus just to answer. — Beatriz Boscan, P&G
When we saw our friends and families being impacted by the virus and its fallout, we shifted to remote work and when we realized that the realities of being home brought new challenges for employees, we implemented a 60% reduced schedule that allowed employees to better manage their personal lives and earn the same wage. This pandemic has shown us that as long as we stay true to our mission, we will always be able to weather the storm. — Irma Olguin, Jr., Bitwise Industries
Change #3: In this unusual year, uncertainty and unpredictability ruled the day. Leaders turned their attention to providing guidance — or at least an embrace of the unknown.
I am trying to provide clarity versus certainty and also practice foresight thinking (i.e., planning from the future back as opposed to the present forward). — FD Wilder, McKinsey & Company
In order for leaders to be able to see the icebergs ahead and recognize the hidden opportunities, they need to find a way to get themselves into the metaphorical eye of the hurricane — that centered place of strength, wisdom and peace which we all have inside ourselves. — Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global
I have been more curious about what is really going on and more introspective. That is, I am more cognizant of ensuring that the stories I’m telling myself about what’s going on actually comports with what is going on. I’m asking more direct questions and peeling back every layer of someone else’s story to understand why they are telling themself the story they are. — Dr. Jordan Shlain, Private Medical