Fierce Stewardship and Other Strategies for the Mezzo Pandemic
In the early days of the pandemic, our clients were focused on safety -- self-care and caring for those they were responsible for; as we passed the six-month mark, the focus shifted toward resiliency -- learning and adapting in a new context. By late winter, it was clearly endurance that was needed -- shoring up the mental and physical fortitude for both the pandemic and fulfilling the mission and strategy of the enterprise. Finally, in June, it seemed everyone could look forward to some R & R - rest, recreation, recovery.
Enter: Delta variant. Ugh.
Realizing that we’re not at the tail end but actually in an interminable middle pandemic, leaders are reaching ever deeper for strategies that will help them and their communities maintain well-being and create forward momentum.
In this uncharted territory, we would like to share two different approaches our clients are finding useful.
The first approach emphasizes finding meaning. It echoes the work of Emily Esfahani Smith who describes the four pillars of meaning as belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence or spirituality. Reflecting on recent conversations with leaders, we are reminded of the benefit of connecting with something larger than oneself:
A hard driving leader is able to keep herself and her staff engaged by consistently connecting their accomplishments to the vision and mission of the organization.
One senior leader, who had questioned staying at an institution facing compounding challenges, has found belonging to a team of incredibly talented and caring leaders strengthens his commitment and motivation.
A third senior academic leader who was completely burned out, realized volunteer work through his church is grounding and revitalizing.
The second approach we’d call “fierce stewardship” -- putting a laser focus on protecting the well-being of all members of the community. This entails using your authority to model and create healthy practices and being protective of how time and emotional energy are spent:
A naturally collaborative leader is being more discerning about when collaboration is really important and when it is more appropriate to make decisions without taxing her colleagues and staff.
One leader broke previous norms by cutting short a community discussion that she knew was out of the purview of those present and was, therefore, wasting their time and energy.
Another has created “self-care accountability buddies” so direct reports are more likely to take care of themselves and model self-care for their staff.
One resource we offer for honing these skills is our Rising Professionals program for middle level managers with direct reporting staff. Please see the sidebar for additional information.
How might you connect your work and that of your colleagues to a larger purpose?
How might you practice “fierce stewardship?”
We’d appreciate learning about your strategies so we might continue to share with others.
Kande and Francine
Crystal Clear Consulting