Coming up to this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) during the heartache of Ukraine, the first IWD day since I lost my beloved Mother and a week after we are mask free and expected to be back to the office, it’s hard to think of anything positive about the pandemic reducing its severity and the possibility of business life returning to normal.
One thing is for sure. There is no normal.
There can be routine. There can be plans. Through it all – constant change is here to stay.
Fortunately, as women we are resilient and as history shows, we are also adaptable to change.
There are six things I am hanging on to and have seen a shift in the last 12 months. Maybe you recognise a few of them in your own experience.
1. Is your business and are you, more PT?
PT doesn’t stand for fitness anymore post-pandemic – but a new leadership combination of Patience and Tolerance. As a business owner and also a Taurus bull, patience and tolerance have become a higher priority as I walk my leadership journey this last year and have driven the business through turmoil, loss and threat.
Giving people more rope, a greater opportunity to share and bond working remotely, while still holding them to drive business outcomes has been a joy, a challenge and a necessity. Family and relationship traumas, homeschooling, Covid illness, mental health, onboarding new team members, career progression, communicating remotely is all so much harder when dealing with the extra pressure Covid put on us all.
I, for one, will be at first base, each day, finding patience and tolerance when I can, and it has changed the way I operate. Still driven sure, but with more of a radar on what others are going through. If I thought I was both these things before, I am more so now.
2. Did you really hear? Empathy is the new brand currency
If patience and tolerance have needed to be foremost for us as business owners this last year, then empathy is our new brand currency. Empathy firstly for team members, yourself, customers, suppliers, family and the rest of the world. Empathy to take the time to listen and take note, acknowledge and respect. Give space for everyone to have a voice as remotely and on zoom and teams calls, this becomes so much harder.
Empathy goes beyond personal relationships but to contracts, delivery, deadlines, stock control, shelf stacking, to the newly trained hospitality staff dealing with the first day of frustrated customers and the lack of speed and availability of just about everything.
3. Stick to the why
When this year got tough and many of us have plummeted to the depths of despair on occasions—for me it was moments of grief, loss and health threats confusion from remote working and worrying about my adult children through this craziness—I’ve taken a moment to remind myself of the WHY.
Why am I in business, why do I do what I do? Why do we do what we do? Why do I stand for what I believe in? Why does my company exist? There is no greater purpose than the why to help you focus and feel why you need to keep going. It is a good habit as a leader, as a team, as a mother to check in with the why. I am not sure the kickoffs of the past really focussed on this enough and yet now post Covid – it is so much more important.
4. Finding another way
We’ve had many of our familiar and set ways blocked as business owners and leaders this last 12 months. The resilience to find a new way to do things may have always been there and important, but the leaders that adapted first and were fast to change and find new ways are the next hailed generation. The new set to follow.
Finding another way is a mantra that I’ve followed this last year and it has helped no end. No such word as can’t. It’s always been there but it’s more prominent now. Find another way to change, adapt, grow, protect and nurture. It worked at home as my young adults had to change their travel plans, school children found a new way to learn and university students went online. Just as some people had to find new ways to earn such as my Qantas pilot friend, it was a manta of disappointment, change of plans, uncertainty and finding a new source of income. Strength and resilience. Find another way.
The good news is that along with hardship and forced change comes innovation. We are already adopting new technologies at Taurus – new ways of doing things and some of the priorities on the back boiler are on the front foot today, such as digital transformation.
Job sharing, women back to work or less at work, specific part tasks outsourced, increased gifting, home deliveries are some of the things we’ve lent more into this year. They were there before appearing occasionally in the life of my 26-year-old company, but now they are mainstream.
There are many little things, innovative moments we have engaged with and built to cope with the new normal. Working in tech we’ve watched first-hand the pickup of Teams, Zoom, conferencing, the convergence of security and digital and so on. Innovation rocks.
6. Taking time out
Of course, my final learning was taking time out or creating change to feel like time out. My team now work from anywhere as do I. Mini breaks, micro-breaks, a change of scenery where the backgound changes but the work doesn’t. At Taurus, we had it all before it became a new workplace trend, but now it’s the norm instead of something special about the company I created. I continue to look and book those moments for my team, my family and myself this year. Stock up on that well-being bucket as you never know when you will again, be asked, to dig deep.
Now, a year on from last year’s IWD, it is more than ever up to me, you, to create new normal. More listening, more speed, more innovation, finding other ways to make excellent normal.
Today is your first day of that next phase. What are you going to do with it? Happy IWD.
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