I am aiming to complete the text of this short Guidebook this week, which will be called ‘Finding your Campfire: the Remote Working Survival Guide’. Today, as part of #WorkingOutLoud, i am sharing a section on ‘Caring for Each Other’. This work is not proofed, nor complete, just shared as i go.
Caring for Each Other
Silent Voices – who can’t you hear?
Social Leaders have a responsibility to their whole community: reach out into the silence
Within any system we find loud voices, which can carry the dominant story: voices that other aggregate around, stories that are amplified. These may be stories of confidence and success.
But a Social Leader is able to take themselves beyond the noise, to stand outside at the edge of the campsite, looking at those people gathered around the fire, and then listen to the silence.
Think of your whole team, the wider community, and who you have not heard from this week: then reach out into the silence.
When the Adrenaline Wears Off – it’s all fun till it ain’t
The journey into the wilderness represents change, which is engaging. But what happens when the adrenaline wears off?
When things are new, we rattle through: we make do and mend, we draw upon our reserves, we clear a corner of the table and have a go. But running on batteries won’t keep us going forever.
Right now we are tackling the logistical aspects of the journey, making sure everyone is set up with technology, that everyone can communicate, but in three weeks time, or three months, some people will be sinking.
Every day we must ask if we are running in credit, or at a deficit, and every week we must find space and time for shared storytelling: not just stories of success, but stories of fear and failure too.
When the adrenaline wears off, some people will be shivering on the hillside: a good expedition leader ensures they check in with everyone, and do so for the long haul.
Uncertainty and Doubt – sharing when you don’t want to
It’s easy to share aspiration and hope, but what about uncertainty and doubt? Share your vulnerability to inspire others.
We have grown up in systems that encourage us to project success, to see uncertainty as weakness, and to view doubt as indecision.
But why would anyone have all the answers? Indeed, a rush to ‘make sense’ of things too fast is a key component of failure, when our initial assumptions turn out to be invalid, but we are trapped in stories of our own writing.
So ensure that you share your uncertainty and doubt: not to add noise to a whole system, but perhaps in individual conversations, or at certain times.
It does two things: firstly, the trait that we most value in leaders is authenticity, and an authentic leader can share their uncertainty. And secondly, if you do so, you may create the conditions for others to do so too: you lead by example, and have the humility to listen to the fears that others share.
Then find ways to pull them into a shared story that you can own together.
Remember: creating space to hear uncertainty can come with high reputation or social consequence for some people, especially those who are more junior. So work to create safe spaces for them.
Respecting Failure and Moving On – when you trip
Our leaders in this wilderness should not just respect visible success and achievement, but also honest failure.
At the end of the week, when we look around and recognise those who have succeeded, we should also recognise with respect those who have struggled.
Similarly, in our own story, we should recognise when we trip, and not anchor our story to those moments. Some days will run away from you, and for many of us, we cannot do as much as we did before our added responsibilities of family, community, and care, were so ramped up.
So cast recognition and respect around your team, and into your own story, but do so with kindness, and recognise that failure is just as valid an outcome.
Then move on from it.
What you Need to Do
- Create Your Space and Sanctify It – separation is key
- Start Each Day Fresh – walking and working
- Sustainability is Key – seek out silent voices
Julian, I have been following your blogs for a long time and really find your thoughts helpful but amid the avalanche of “how to survive the virus” advice (some good, some bad) landing in my inbox this is the best so far – short, sharp, clear, practical and above all compassionate, assertive and positive and I love the cartoon. Thankyou, I look forward to reading the Guidebook.
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