I was watching a YouTube video the other night and a pre-roll ad came on. I usually hit that SKIP button as soon as possible, but this one got my attention because the subject interested me.
Opioid addiction. The opioid epidemic.
This has been in the news quite a lot in recent years sparked in large part by the Fentanyl-related deaths of Prince and Tom Petty. The ad was produced by DrugFree.org.
A visit to their website reveals advice and help. Help with the skills parents may need to help a child addicted to opioids. Skills needed to help families struggling.
We all need skills.
We learned them. All of them. Even the ones that came naturally to us. Those just came easier.
Adversity is the Master Teacher. Our skills to navigate adversity happen by…well, by navigating adversity over and over again. One hurdle teaches us lessons we’ll never forget, as opposed to dozens of successes that won’t teach us anything. Adversity has a ridiculously high ROI.
Sometimes we need skills to heal. It’s fun to think of best-case scenarios. And to daydream of extraordinarily higher success.
But sometimes we need to recover. Sometimes our business suffers a loss. I’ve operated businesses that endured late-night break-in’s, floods, cars crashing through walls, robbery at gunpoint, death of employees and a host of other issues. Bad things happen that demand appropriate responses.
Some bad things have long-lasting consequences requiring healing. The skills to stop the bleeding in the ER aren’t the same skills needed in the rehab center to teach a patient how to walk again. One skill requires speed and urgency. The other…patience, patience, patience.
There’s a paradox though.
You need both of those skills. The skills for urgent care and the skills for healing.
Let’s concentrate for a few minutes about the skills needed to help your company (or life, or career) heal.
Pay close attention. The details matter!
Healing is a process. There are signs and indicators you must observe accurately. That illustration of physical therapy rehab is valid. For healing and recovery, slight differences demand notice. Feedback is critical so we know what actions need to be taken. It’s about adjusting as we go, which means we have to know if we’re making progress…and what that progress is.
A subset of this is to listen carefully for understanding. Of course, listening to understand is always optimal, but it’s crucial when you’re working to heal or recover. Don’t assume you know. Just lean into what you hear and can confirm.
Watching is important, too. By careful listening, we can add to our listening to get the most accurate picture possible. So keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Base your actions on what you know to be true. There’s no need to guess when you can get ongoing (often instant) feedback.
Communicate with candor. And empathy.
Healing happens when truth and honesty reign. We’re looking for improvement (aka healing). It could also be growth. Or innovation. The skills are ironically the same!
Don’t sugarcoat things. Healing and recovery (or any of those other things) require a lot of hard work. It’s not easy. Don’t try to con the team into thinking it’s no big deal. It IS a big deal, but you’re going to lead them through it with confidence.
The PT (physical therapist) knows more than the patient. If they don’t, the patient is in deep trouble. 😉
You know more than the team, if only by virtue of your perspective as the leader. That doesn’t make you the smartest person in the room. It just means you’re responsible for the progress. The healing. Be clear in assuming that responsibility by being empathetic to the various viewpoints of the team. Notice when they’re struggling and suffering. Notice when they’re feeling great and gaining momentum. Adjust your communication accordingly. Sometimes you’ll need to encourage. Sometimes you’ll need to bark and challenge. Other times you’ll need to praise and cheer.
Above all, never lie. Don’t coddle. You want the business and the team to be stronger coming out of this than they were going in. So don’t be soft and protective. Instead, be the Chief Servant and serve them.
Build confidence, resilience and resolve all along the way.
Couple those first two things together and that’s how you’ll do it. Communication and collaboration will help forge stronger connections throughout the company. Leverage that. Foster it.
You’ll encounter numerous teaching moments along the way. Use them. Remind the team how valuable this time is…time spent putting in the hard work to heal and recover (grow, innovate, etc.).
“We’ll be bigger, stronger, faster and better in every way because we’re being battle-tested.”
The success you can collectively experience together is invaluable. Preach it. Walk it.
Above all, don’t complain or whine. Don’t lament how hard it is. Don’t resist the positive impact of the adversity. And don’t let your team do it either.
Players love to play. Soldiers love to fight. Remind them this is why you’re together. For times such as these…opportunities to make a difference!
Don’t be surprised if you don’t find your company growing more attractive to prospective employees. Good employees are looking for a great cause. Purpose and significance are the stuff of our lives.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!