We await with anticipation, news from the Prime Minister about how current lockdown restrictions will ease. Never again will we take for granted the simple act of popping for a coffee with a friend, meeting a loved one at the pub, a family meal in a restaurant, meeting a colleague for lunch. Such simple things that I’m sure many of us took for granted before.
Personally, I look forward to a time when we won’t be required to wear a facemask (my glasses steam up!) (even though I accept that they are currently essential). But as lockdown is eased and we start to think about returning to some form of normality there are certain things, certainly from my professional life that I hope we hang on to.
I consider myself to have been very fortunate these last few months – being part of an organization which delivers 24/7 support, 365 days a year, I’ve spent a great deal of time ‘in the office’ interacting with colleagues. But I’ve also spent a huge amount of time on Zoom and on Microsoft Teams, connecting virtually with the outside world. Two of the meetings I attend regularly, always start with a ‘check in’, a chance to see how everyone is doing. These small acts of heartfelt kindness, resulting in shared empathy have been truly wonderful. On one particular call another Chief Executive commented ‘some days I wake up feeling like I can be brilliant, other days I wake up and wonder how I’m going to get through the day’. And many people on that call agreed, that they too felt the pressure of keeping others going, keeping others safe, of leading an organization during such uncertain times. I hope we retain such thoughtfulness and consideration for our colleagues once we are back to meeting face-to-face.
Other things that I smile at when I look back over the past twelve months are:-
- Hearing ‘YOURE ON MUTE’ for the fifth time that day.
- Attending virtual meetings in a smart outfit (AND slippers) – oh yes, many a time!
- Being on an ‘important’ meeting with my dog going crazy in the background because a courier has just arrived with the third ASOS parcel in as many days (I have two daughters, what can I say!)
- A colleague’s parrot, chattering away during a meeting.
- A colleague’s dogs ‘joining the call’ – cuteness overload.
I’ll recall with overwhelming appreciation how a couple of my colleagues, despite being in senior roles were able to stay at home, work, and look after loved ones, without unnecessary pressure to be ‘in the office’. My expectation would always be ‘family first’ but sometimes I feel we add an extra layer to our own personal guilt as leaders, unnecessarily.
During lockdown we have seen more of the whole person, not just the professional side. Personally, I like that. First and foremost, we are wives, husbands, partners, daughters, sons, friends, carers – and hopefully this makes us stronger, compassionate leaders.
I won’t forget the resilience I’ve seen in the last few months, particularly from some of the residents at YMCA Humber who have very little by way of tangible possessions; they’ve continued to greet me when I’m in the building with a smile, a ‘thank you’; positivity.
So as much as I can’t wait to hug, to meet up, I really hope that as we begin to return to normal, whenever that may be, we keep hold of what’s important and look out for one another, as we have done during this pandemic.