Over the last couple of months, we have all had our worlds turned upside down.  We have been forced to isolate from our friends and family, parents have become teachers (in the formal sense of the word), businesses have been forced to close or “pivot” to survive and so many of us have seen our home and work lives merge as we embrace remote working arrangements.

As a business owner and employer this has been a time of great challenge but also of unexpected personal growth and understanding.  As the crisis developed here in Australia in early March we, like many others, were forced to make decisions about the path our business would take and how best to support our staff and clients through the days, weeks and months to come.  Every day brought new updates, less toilet paper and more uncertainty as words like “unprecedented”, “self-isolation” and “hibernation” were thrown at us from everywhere.

In a matter of days new policies had to be developed and implemented, remote working technologies installed, and systems and procedures had to be re-worked in response to the information being provided by the Government.

We made the call quite early in the piece to activate our remote working arrangements for those team members who were considered higher risk.  More followed shortly after as schools closed early and the health and wellbeing of family came into sharper focus.  As the remaining physical presence of the partnership team I don’t think I had fully appreciated what the task of managing a swiftly scattering team would entail, particularly in a time of such uncertainty.

It was around this time that an email arrived in my inbox from an organisation called Future of Leadership (https://www.futureofleadership.com.au/).  I had attended their Melbourne event late last year where I was inspired by the stories of leaders from a cross section of society so when the email arrived I was drawn to it immediately.  The email was for a 10-part webinar series on Zoom (another word we are all now very familiar with) about leading through crisis which aimed to provide business leaders with the tools they needed to get the best out of themselves and their teams.

It was amazing how these little 45 minute daily escapes mirrored so many of the real life issues that were happening around me.  Some of the key learnings I took from these sessions and from my own experiences over the last couple of months are:

  • Take some time each day to focus on yourself – mediate, exercise or do some breathing exercises to reduce your stress and build your mental resilience
  • Build and support your tribe – understand what your people and your clients need from you
  • Give information and you get understanding – keep your teams informed on what is happening so they can understand the process and make their own plans and decisions around this
  • Be present – we don’t expect our leaders to have all the answers but we expect them to be present (not necessarily physically).
  • Communication and Connection is critical – embrace technology to maintain the human relationships as social isolation does not mean you have to be alone
  • Be flexible – we sometimes resist what can help us the most
  • Disasters are always unique and unprecedented but leading though crisis is not – there are lessons to be learned from each crisis that we can apply to the next one

From a personal perspective I found these sessions incredibly useful and engaging as they allowed me to shut off the noise from the outside world and focus on the things that were within my control.  This really highlighted to me the importance of sharing our experiences and asking for help and advice when we need it.  Whether that is by participating in a series like this (which is still available to purchase and watch online), or being part of an online community, or simply having the conversations with your family and friends.

We are obviously still managing through this current crisis and each day seems to bring a new challenge (or Government incentive to understand) which we just have to deal with as it comes.  However once the World returns to “normal”, whatever that might look like, I think it is important that we all stop and reflect on what we have all been though and the lessons we have learned.

The team here at McPhails are still fully operational and here to support our clients through these difficult times so please reach out if we can assist in any way.  We are looking forward to getting through this and seeing everyone back up and running on the other side.