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Help! I’m running out of soap!

It has been more than six months since I got off an airplane. Normally by this time of year I would have well over 100,000 air miles as I criss-cross the US for client engagements.

bars of soap

And now I’m fast approaching a crisis situation: after stockpiling hotel soap for the past 20+ years – and avoiding the grocery store soap aisle since the 1990s – I’m down to just a few, small remnants of all my hotel pilfering. I told my wife this weekend we were going to need to buy some soap before the end of the month.

Fellow leader – we’ve been in the present reality for a long time now. Whether you call it “the new normal” or “unprecedented times” or just “normal,” it’s been more than half a year since our world changed.

Here are four things to keep in mind as we seek to lead well during these extended times:

1. Stay close to your key team members. I’ve talked with several senior managers recently. We all agree: in this virtual world, none of us can go more than a week without having a meaningful conversation with each of our direct reports.

Because most of us are not getting the “walking the hallways” informal conversations, it is more important than ever that you stay in close touch with those you lead.

2. Take your job as “Chief Culture Officer” very seriously. Closely tied to the prior point is this one: be intentional about the people side of your business. Tempers are frayed, the novelty of working from home has been replaced by childcare/schoolwork supervision/dog barking/Zoom weariness and the larger cultural issues around us have all piled significant stress on your people.

Take time to care for them and the culture you’ve created. Remember: long-term relationship health always wins out over short-term drive for performance.

3. Also take your job as “Chief Optimism Officer” very seriously. While we all know that hope is not a business strategy, it is a business investment you and I need to make into our teams. Hope and optimism need to be the currency of your leadership right now.

There is a better day coming, and the team you’ve built is strong enough and agile enough to get there. Remind them regularly about those three truths.

4. Lastly, continue to practice “Confident Uncertainty.” Think well about where you are at and where you need to be, build your plans to move forward, but also stay agile to change as you need to respond to the changes around you.

“Iteration” needs to be the word of the day: try/evaluate/adjust, try/evaluate/adjust on a regular basis. Don’t get tied to any one strategy, but also don’t be strategy-less. Move forward, but stay agile. Balance confidence with uncertainty and be flexible about how you move into your firm’s future.

travel toiletries

Small soap bars, shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes have been a part of my life for the past two decades. Now I’m looking forward to big bars of soap, full-size shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes that last longer than a week.

Fellow leader – where do you need to embrace your present reality?