What a world-wide whirlwind the last 16 months has been! But now, perhaps it is time for us to see life through the lens of gratitude, and celebrate. It’s been a hard time for many of us, and without dismissing the genuine fear and loss that some of us have had to cope with, we have all had to dig deep, tapping into our inner resources and becoming ultimately stronger. This has certainly been a testing time – a time when skills such as resilience and Emotional Intelligence (EI) have taken on even greater importance than before. Regardless of our role or employment status, we’ve all had to show up as leaders. But now, thank goodness, it looks as if we are coming out the other side.
With the UK, France and other countries looking to ease Covid-19 restrictions this month, people are excited that this heralds a return to ‘normality’. In France, restrictive national curfews will be lifted completely by the end of June, all being well. In the UK, bars and restaurants have opened indoors after months of closure, takeaway or outside meals in cold weather. Similar things are happening across the globe. There is hope in the air – a rising optimism and celebratory appreciation that people can meet and connect once more.
But can it ever be business as usual again? Having survived such changes in the world, and learned so much about ourselves and our capabilities through a global pandemic, surely our greater resilience, resourcefulness, and emotional intelligence will stand us in good stead as we move forward in celebration.
Change and VUCAbility
It’s been a time of change – VUCA – for us all. The term ‘VUCA’ (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) was coined by the US Military in 1987 to describe the global security situation after the Cold War. Since the turn of the millennium, however, VUCA has been applied to risk management and strategic planning in all sorts of businesses and industries – for any situation of constant and unpredictable change. And whilst the ability to deal with such tricky situations has long been a required business leadership skill, in recent months during this pandemic, the whole world has needed to learn to handle VUCA, just to get through everyday life. And if anything, we have come out stronger.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and ‘standard’ or ‘normal’ approaches to leadership, management, or daily life just don’t cut it in times of VUCA. We have learned to develop and utilise our resilience and emotional intelligence to a greater extent than ever before – so, let’s put that to good use.
- In coping with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, what have you learned?
- What have you achieved in this year of change?
- What will you take forward?
Basically, resilience is the ability to remain flexible when confronted by life’s disruptions, or prolonged periods of pressure, so that we emerge from these times more resourced – stronger, wiser, and more able. I wrote about resilience in a previous blog post last summer, in which I describe the need for kindness, connection, self-care, acceptance, the ability to say ‘no,’ and celebration – to enable us to lead ourselves and others with resilience. There are some good tools and tips for developing and practising resilience in that article. And if there was ever a time when we needed resilience as a resource, it has been in the last year and a half. However, resilience is a skill for life, and looking to the future, we can all benefit from the ability to adapt and cope with challenges and return to a ‘normal’ (pre-stress’) state after dealing with any upheaval or adversity.
- In which ways have you demonstrated resilience in the face of difficulties?
- How will resilience help you, going forward?
- What do you have in life to be grateful for?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, manage and utilize the emotions of ourselves and others for the best results. It involves not only being self-aware and able to use self-control, but also being empathetic, socially aware and able to manage our relationships. Additionally, good emotional intelligence enables us to understand how best to motivate and influence people to succeed. These are valuable qualities and skills for leaders to have in all respects and aspects of life and work. I wrote about resilience and why we need it more than ever, in my Forbes article, last December. Post-pandemic, having greater emotional intelligence can only strengthen our leadership of self and others.
- What have you learned about yourself and your emotional intelligence?
- What have you learned about other people’s emotions and motivations?
- How will you use this knowledge or ability in future?
Moving onward is not simply a matter of forgetting the past. We also need to take stock: to look at what has happened for us and acknowledge what we have done and achieved in the past year or so. We should take time to appreciate how far we’ve come and where we are now; learn from it all and take our skills forward. This also means celebrating our accomplishments in whatever way is appropriate, however big or small. And that goes for the achievements and performance of your staff team, your family members, and your community. In fact, world-wide, we will hopefully soon have cause to celebrate coming through the biggest global crisis of the last century – together.
Looking towards a positive future, we need to celebrate our individual, team, community, societal and global efforts to navigate this unprecedented experience.
- What will you be celebrating? (Think about all you’ve accomplished or feel grateful for)
- How will you celebrate? (E.g. indulge yourself, hold a dinner or event)
- What will you do to share the joy or encourage others to celebrate? (organise a party, donate to charity, run a team event, reward people, write an article).
We may have experienced a period of great VUCA and change, but this has also provided us with opportunities to grow and develop. Our resilience and Emotional Intelligence have brought us through – and that fact alone is cause for gratitude and celebration.
What will you do to mark the event?
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