Moving on or moving forward?
First week back and I was talking to a coaching client about their individual and team goals for 2022 and we were talking about being more ambitious, aspirational, maybe stretching it to big, hairy and audacious goals?
It reminded me of an article I wrote exactly one year ago about Leaders making aspiration your No 1 resolution. I read it again and it was interesting reflecting. Yes it’s still an incredibly tough gig, yes we’re back into the eye of the storm. In the UK there doesn’t seem to be as much of an optimism deficit, certainly not to the same extent as last January.
In comparison with 2021 the situation hasn’t changed. Yet in so many ways it has changed significantly. The cases are higher, transmissibility is greater, there’s still so much uncertainty, so many unknown unknowns.
It’s still incredibly hard for leaders to be aspirational, to inspire, engage and motivate others, when we have such high levels of absence through covid, covid required isolation, vulnerable workers; people working from home; supply chain difficulties; things not being able to get done and talk of the customer experience sadly still a distant dream. A client this week talked about their HR team issuing guidelines in the different geographies that are out of date within minutes of them clicking the send button.
It’s both complicated and it’s complex but there are so many signs that we have moved on. So many of my clients are moving forward. There’s been several game changers with the high levels of vaccinations, the roll out of the booster programme, the omicron virus appearing to be less severe and people making choices about how they are living and working. Most of all we’re seeing a different mindset, less government edicts (for all the reasons we know) and more independent thinking with people taking responsibility for their own decisions.
Different geographies are all subject to different rules and are in different states of limbo impacting on their levels of ambition. Despite this, in most markets we have more clarity, we’re better organised, we’ve had nearly two years’ experience of leading with covid. We know what works well remotely and what doesn’t. We’ve become very clear on prioritising in-office time, face time (not the apple version), real life in person time so we gain from those casual conversations, the office chatter, random connections and collaboration delivering creative solutions to those seemingly impossible challenges.
There’s increased confidence in the UK with talk of weathering the omicron wave, outpacing the pandemic and functioning more like it’s endemic. The last two weeks I’ve listened to clients talking beyond short termism, back onto a more strategic footing. We knew that this winter would be tough, we know we face more challenging times. Let’s be confident in this different mindset, that brighter times are ahead and we’re not just moving on, we’re moving forward.
Moving forward with recognition and appreciation of what we’ve been through, what we’ve learned, what we’ll do differently, with the wise words of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney ringing in our ears:
'If we can winter this one out, we can summer anywhere'.
I’m there and I hope you’re with me relishing the joy and unleashed potential of leading beyond covid.