Remote leadership

From Setback to Comeback: How to View Today as a Time of Opportunity

The honeymoon is over, folks.

Caffeine and adrenaline may have fueled us when we first started working from home, but we’re way beyond that now. We all feel the extended stress caused by the pandemic, the isolation of working from home, the uncertainty around the approval and distribution of a vaccine—not to mention the election.

So how do we shift our mindset? How do we stay positive when we’re so unsure how this is all going to play out?

This is such a critical and timely challenge that we invited Karen Mangia, Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, to deliver our closing keynote for RESOLVE Increments 2020 on Leading and Succeeding from Anywhere: Tips for Engaging Employees Today.

Here are my takeaways from Mangia’s insightful RESOLVE Increments presentation. To watch her talk in full and grab all her helpful resources, get exclusive access here.

Shift your mind. Shrink the pressure.

Mangia described how your mindset and the two words “by now” can lead you down a path of negativity and suffering.

“Have you ever used or heard any of these phrases at home or around your home office?

We should be back to work by now. We should be having in-person events by now. We should have a vaccine by now. What have you noticed as the common denominator there? See, that ‘by now’ becomes a tagline for suffering instead of success. 

“Successful people get rid of those two words ‘by now’ because it puts success on a timeline. And we think that if it hasn’t shown up the way we’ve pictured it ‘by now’ that we’re somehow off course, that success isn’t available. So when you think about mindset, what would happen if you took that pressure off of yourself, off of your colleagues and off of your team by getting rid of those two words ‘by now’?”

Mangia shared a personal example of how she was able to shift her mindset. As a member of Salesforce’s Work from Home Taskforce, she has been supporting more than 50,000 global employees adapt to remote work. And when she was talking with her publisher about another book she was working on, the subject of working from home came up.

The publisher asked her if she would write a book about working from home, and she replied, “In my sleep.” Then the publisher asked if she could write it in two weeks, and she said “Absolutely not.” “How about 30 days?”

“I said the two words that changed everything for me—and they will for you, too. Those two words were ‘Why not?’

“If you’re thinking about using some of the material that you’ve been learning about this month from the conference: Why not? If you want to be a better leader, a better partner, if you have some new idea or aspiration during this period of time, instead of thinking about all the reasons why it can’t be done—or maybe you’re not the one to do it—what would happen if you asked, ‘Why not?‘”

Put motivation in reach

Writing a book in 30 days is no easy feat, but Mangia kept inspiration close at hand: a series of letters from her goddaughters with messages like “Nothing is impossible. Just challenging.”

“When I was feeling stuck, I could open one and access a bit of encouragement.”

She encouraged you to look around your home office for things that inspire you and encourage your mindset. Sometimes, small details can make a big difference.

“The adjustments that we’re giving ourselves permission to make right now don’t have to take five hours. These don’t have to be five-year, five-phase roadmaps that cost five million dollars to be able to make some adjustments personally that help you show up at your best.”

Distributed teams require distributed ownership.

Your middle managers are critical when it comes to business success. Mangia says you create something very powerful when you trust others in your organization to own decisions and new projects—and communicate that the reason you’re trusting them with ownership is to deepen that relationship and build visibility and alignment.

Trust helps people develop into leaders because they know you believe in their ability to take responsibility and make decisions.

“People are feeling isolated and invisible right now. Leaders are asking ‘How do I know how hard our employees are working, or if they’re working to deliver the right outcomes?’ Employees are asking—and especially in that mid level manager category—‘How is my leader or my manager going to know how hard I’m working?’ And one of the most effective tools for solving for that trust gap is examining ownership.”

Learn when to say “No.”

Mangia shared the story of a time in her career when she was determined to get a promotion and willing to do whatever it took to get there.

“I just kept saying ‘Yes.’ And as I said ‘Yes’ to more and more things, I thought I would absolutely—almost by sheer force of my will—get to that outcome.”

When she finally got word on December 23 that she had earned that promotion, she had a 102-degree fever and a cough and had lost her voice.

“There was something that I failed to understand that’s the most critical aspect of getting to success in a way that you can be healthy and well, and it was this: divest before you invest.”

Many things are competing for your attention today, and if everything is important, then nothing is really important. So you need to consider what success looks like for you personally.

“You have permission to set a new target. How you started the pandemic isn’t how you have to continue it.”

Bring back the fun.

Mangia shared how a distributed Salesforce team had a live-cam project where they spotted animals for a wildlife preserve in Africa, and how they’ve invited family members to participate in activities at times.

She says another way to encourage fun is to co-create with your colleagues. For example, she has collaborated on research and writing blog posts with colleagues with whom she previously hadn’t worked.

“People are hungry for connection and community, and we can create that in this distributed work world. It’s just a different motion. We took for granted how easy it is to feel connected with someone when you can see them in person. Now I think we have to work a little harder to create that connection and sense of community in this virtual world. More conversation, more interaction and putting a little fun into what we’re doing.”

Find your routine. Set your boundaries.

Examine what’s working for you in working from home—and what’s not working. Since you’re not physically going to and leaving the office, you likely find it difficult to separate work life from home life. There’s always one more text, one more email, one more PowerPoint slide, and on and on.

“My question for you is: what routines, rituals and boundaries have you put in place to help you finish your day? What kind of upside can you create for yourself that helps you have a catalyst to end your work day?”

You need to find something easy, fun and rewarding to help you end your day. It might be as simple as changing into a different set of clothes after work hours, taking a walk around the block, or listening to music.

So, what now?

To watch Week Four of RESOLVE Increments, fill out the form below and gain exclusive access to the full replay and resources we shared throughout the session, including SHRM credits:

Click here to register for RESOLVE 2021 in person (hopefully!) or grab the recap of any RESOLVE Increments you may have missed.

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