Leadership in Trying Times

Funny enough, I must have missed the MBA class on how to navigate a global pandemic because I had the chickenpox (true story). But most of the small business leaders we work with didn’t do an MBA at all. They earned their success by getting their hands dirty, which is currently not recommended by the health authority (too soon?). Anyway, this pandemic is some dirt they’ve never experienced either.

It’s no surprise that business leaders are struggling to manage the hurdles being thrown at them right now. We’re all in this situation together, but our circumstances vary greatly. Every leader is facing unique challenges; be it working from home with young children, navigating layoffs, overhauling operations, the added stress of a partner or loved one working in health care or tending to their own health concerns.

Everyday we’re talking to our clients about what’s happening for business leaders and how we can come together to make things easier and a whole lot better for each other. 

What business leaders are struggling with

The dual emotional needs that some leaders have to “know all the answers” and “take care of their employees” have heightened anxiety during this pandemic. And they’ve never felt more unsure or ill equipped to fulfil either role. As a result, many are delaying talking to their teams in a futile attempt to wait for more clarity. When it doesn’t come, they delay further, feeling like they’ve waited so long that they better have something more profound to say. And the longer they wait to say something, the bigger they feel their message needs to be. It can be paralyzing.

But nature abhors a vacuum and the impact of silence is insidious. Leaders have to fill the space with facts, no matter how obvious or inconsequential they might seem. Because in the absence of information, people assume the worst. If you’re one of these leaders, cut yourself some slack. This is hard! Once you’ve forgiven yourself, talk to your team. Cut them some slack too. Remember, while we’re all impacted differently, we’re in this together.

If you’d like to learn more, we’ve recently written about how to manage your internal communications right now.

Not business as usual

Everything has changed. But it’s kind of exciting. Along with most businesses, we’re figuring out the new normal.

One of the biggest changes Bellrock has faced recently is moving all our training online. Once upon a time, we didn’t believe in doing training online. We didn’t think it could be nearly as effective.

We were wrong.

Research demonstrates that on average, as people age, they become less motivated. In our class on motivation, the ice breaker was always, “What have you tried in the last year for the first time?” Well, just in the past few weeks, most of us have tried everything for the first time!

It’s been scary but fun to pivot. With the introduction of our online training, we’ve built new skills and we’re rapidly improving. One of the most immediate requirements to compensate for the online medium is giving a more engaging performance. More humour, more direct questions, more audience participation, more storytelling. Webinars can be dry. Workshops can be entertaining.

The nice thing about this season of change, is that it’s largely risk free. We have permission to not be the best. Everyone is just trying to figure it out. So, go ahead and make some mistakes. No one else knows what to do either. There’s no playbook. This is an open invitation to try new things. It’s an extraordinary time and an unprecedented opportunity.

What we all need right now

Relationships have always and will always be everything. In all contexts. We need community and connection, now more than ever.

In the last few weeks, we’ve reached out to our network to check in and chat. We’ve reconnected with people who we should’ve always stayed in contact with. It’s truly been delightful.

The most important thing that you can do right now, for your businesses, and for yourselves, is to foster community. Approach these challenges with humility and your connections with kindness.

Recognize your strengths and share them generously with the people who can benefit most from them. Start with your inner circle and spread as you’re able.

How Bellrock is sharing our strengths

Like every business, Bellrock is navigating this new landscape one step at a time. We’ve been in business long enough to know what leaders need in times like these and we’re in a place to help.

The businesses that thrive in times of immense change are the ones that have a strong network and are quick to make smart decisions. We’re making our most useful services more available and more affordable than ever.

In partnership with our long-time clients, Major Tom, we’re offering two of our most highly-demanded services for immediate purchase through their e-commerce store, The Tin Can (no longer available).

  • Leadership Skills Intensive – Our workshop material is built for practical application and you will walk away with new skills, which you can immediately apply and reap the benefits of. What differentiates us further is the 1:1 training packaged with each class. Normally only sold in a pack of 8-12, these leadership workshops are, for a limited time, available individually.
  • Business Health Checkup and Road Map to Success – This comprehensive assessment and planning package is valued at well over double the price. We’re offering it at a highly reduced cost to help you identify the best path to achieving your goals and get you started on that path.

We’re also offering the same implementation and change management programs we always have – the ones that strengthen your foundations. All of which can be delivered remotely and often qualify for grant funding of up to 60% through the B.C. Employer Training Grant program (BC ETG).

Our purpose is to create lifelong relationships and raving fans. We hope this new way to connect with the help you need will provide relief and encouragement.

Tara Landes is the President of Bellrock, a change management and training firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you found value in this article, don’t be selfish! Please share it with your networks.

Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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