Leading From Home Learning 2: The things that don't matter, matter the most
Updated: Sep 25
Working in Strategy means that there is very little breaking news day to day. My co-workers in Sales, Marketing, IT and Ecommerce have daily stand-ups because their world can change by the hour. When you work on the long term, there's a lot less need for a daily huddle. So what do you talk about when you want to bring your team together every day and check in on how they're doing in a pandemic and keep building your team culture, in a way that doesn't feel forced or redundant? Well, we started our first lockdown team meeting with a heated debate about which was the best dinosaur and why, and have chosen a different subject a day ever since..
It's less crazy than it sounds. OK, maybe a little less crazy.
The world we inhabit in 2020 is like nothing any of us have experienced before. The events of this year have put stresses and strains on all of us. In a world of a pandemic, civil unrest, economic crisis, uncertainty over jobs and a looming contentious US Presidential election, who doesn't want 30 minutes a day to talk about something else, anything else? Our daily calls have turned into a release valve for all of us.
You can turn any subject into a development exercise. We will not accept a one word answer to any question, if you are going to put forward a favourite dinosaur then you are expected to have a well reasoned and researched argument why. Only if you are able to build a strategic case for your choice is it entertained. Presenting why the triceratops was the king of the prehistoric creatures is no different a skill to persuading a leader that your policy change proposal is the right decision. It's just a lot more fun.
The variety of questions and discussion about our opinions around them have taught us all about each other, what makes each person tick, what their hot buttons are, and what values they have. "Bringing your whole self to work" is an often-quoted tenet of management, but doing that in an authentic way is a dilemma for most people. When you're asked to justify which 5 items you would banish into a black hole, it makes explaining who you are a whole let easier.
Work teams are teams that at the end of the day need to perform and achieve tasks, they are not families or groups of friends, so you may be thinking, great but where's the business implication? Well there are several. Being the kind of leader who will host a meeting about your favourite childhood photo means that you're the kind of leader that your employees will see as human and approachable. It also gives your team the opportunity to learn more about each other, engage with each other, communicate better, and feel more like a team and less like a series of islands. And isn't that something we could all use in 2020?