I’d like for each one of us to think back to a situation where we experience change. For many of us, that change was something that happened suddenly. It’s not something that we welcomed or wanted. That is what we’re facing right now across the world with the Coronavirus. Nobody (well, very few people) anticipated it coming, and none of us want it. And yet we have to learn how to navigate through that change. Right now, of course, there is A LOT of change. For example, we have millions of kids out of school. Many public places are closing — sporting events, bars, theaters, etc. Lots of organizations are having to adapt. For example, restaurants are going to drive-through service as opposed to having guests coming to their facilities. Businesses are also changing. Businesses are either reducing hours or staggering hours in order to have fewer numbers of people in one place at one time.  Also, people, as we all know, are working from home in unprecedented numbers. We’re finding also that even change is changing. So, for example, at first, we were told that we should limit the number of people in any one location to 250 – that number changed to 50 for a short time. And then, just recently, the president announced we should limit the number of people in one place to 10. Now, of course, this is all for good reasons. We want to do our part to reduce the exposure that people have to the Coronavirus so that that we can flatten the curve – that is, so we have fewer people exposed to the virus and fewer people sick at the same time. This is a world issue. So how do we adapt to this change? Think about the change that you went through personally BEFORE the Coronavirus.  The roadmap for change always requires the same type of process.  This time, are all navigating the change process together. Let’s walk through a three-step process to manage change. We’ll need to manage change for ourselves and also (as leaders) helping other people at work, home and in our communities navigate change. Here is the summary:

Number one…connect with people. They want to know that you care and understand.

Number two… influence!  Guide people along the change curve.

Number three…take action for impact.  Start with those in your inner circle and expand.

The first step requires transparency. In order for us to really connect with people, they need to know that we care about them and that we understand. When change happens, people ask, “What impact will this have on me?” And the emotional response is typically a fight or flight response. At this point, when people are upset or anxious, we can’t use logic to get people through their emotional responses. They have real emotional reactions and questions about how the change is going to impact their future. What we need to do is take a pause at that moment and help them understand that we know what they’re feeling. Assure them that we know what their concerns are and we empathize with those concerns. For us to truly connect with others, we have to listen. We have to understand from their perspective. We need to be compassionate toward the feelings that they’re going through so that they know we care about them and we understand. So, again, the first thing that you can do to be effective in leading others is to encourage transparency and connect with people. Stop, listen. Spend at least 70% of the time listening and don’t give advice. Just help them to know that you care and understand. The second step in our change process is that we want to be able to influence people to move forward along the change curve toward problem-solving.  In order to do that, we need to have the right mindset. I have a mindset coach, Danielle Grant, and she recently stated that “fear is our worst virus. We cannot panic.” She is right! Be sure, the physical aspects of the Coronavirus will pass, but if we overreact in fear and start hoarding and overcompensating in many different ways, we will create long term consequences that are unnecessary. Instead, we need to get educated about the Coronavirus and how we can mitigate the consequences of the virus within our organizations and families. There is a lot of misinformation being communicated.  So, get educated on the facts. Next, we need to understand reality. We operate in a global economy. Other countries are going to affect our country’s economics. People are concerned about the economy as a whole and the impact it will have today and in the future.  Customers will likely be tightening their belts, and that is going to have an effect on our businesses, especially small businesses.  Employees are going to be nervous about how they manage their families, their kids being out of school, and paying expenses in the short term. Most American families don’t have more than $1,000.00 in savings. This is reality… And, we all need to do our part in minimizing the amount of exposure that we personally have to the Coronavirus and making sure that we’re not passing it along and infecting others.  I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel sick and express high-level anxiety that they could have infected others without knowing it. This is our reality. For us to be realistic and calm, there are a few specific things that we can do — some tools to put in our toolbox. At this point in the change process (step 2), AFTER people feel like they are understood and we care about them (step 1), we can start to move people along the change curve to get back in touch with their “WHYs.” For example, why do we work for our company? What is our collective mission? How do we stay committed and persistent in our purpose, even though we have these obstacles in front of us?  Or, as a family, what are we trying to accomplish? Most of us are doing our best to raise kids that go out into the world with great character and they make a difference. So how do we navigate through this relatively short-term situation (in the grand scheme of life)? How do we address our short-term obstacles to accomplish our long-term purpose? Tip number one: keep your big purposes at the forefront. Right now, it’s very easy to get caught in the weeds with all the day to day challenges we are facing. Tip number two: minimize as much ambiguity as you can. That means that it’s our role as leaders to put some structure in place. The more ambiguity there is, the more that people need basic structure. So if you can help create goals, routines, and workflows that give your teams and family clarity, it will help minimize the feeling of overwhelm associated with all the change taking place. Let’s not under-estimate – there is a great deal of change right now. When you put those structures in place, you’re going to be creating new habits and new routines. Tip number 3, it is important to realize that whenever there is newness, it takes a little bit of time for people to adjust. So, give people grace and flexibility as they navigate all of the changes. Everyone will progress at different rates, moving from that initial sense of fear, concern, and worry… “what about me?” “What about my family?” “What about my finances?” …to figuring out how to manage through their changes in a productive, effective way? As you’re moving toward influencing people along the change curve (Step 2), be flexible and make adjustments. One important ingredient for success at this stage is removing obstacles that exist. Understand what those obstacles are — and help eliminate them, becoming part of the solution with your colleagues at work and the people at home. This is also the time to inspire commitment, hope, and support to help people realize, “YES!, we’re going to get through this!” You want to get people involved in the solutions. Once people have progressed along the change curve to Step 2, they start thinking, “how can we solve problems?”. At that point, you want to empower them to be part of the solution and create success. With any change, it is important to understand that every person is unique, the better we understand them (which is deploying emotional intelligence), the better we are able to connect with them and influence them — in ways that matter to them and create success.

At Blueprint leadership, we teach an eight-step Signature Strengths process. This eight-step process helps identify what makes each person unique in their signature strengths blend. We answer these questions: What are their goals? What are their success mindsets? What do they value? How do they like to communicate and what are their passions? How do they solve problems and what are their greatest skills?

When we can identify what makes a person unique in each one of those areas, it gives us the power to validate and leverage their unique strength, which helps accelerate the change process.

Think about this for yourself.  What is your mission for the year? Where/Who do you want to be on December 31st, 2020? We call that your 2020 vision for 2020! What are your core values? What beliefs drive your conviction as you move through and navigate change? How do you like to communicate? What are the passions of your soul? How do you solve problems most effectively?  What your core skill strengths?

Having self-awareness is pivotal and enables you to bring the best out of others too. So, to summarize this three-step process again…The first step is connecting with people. They need to know that you care and understand. The second step is influencing people to move past emotions and self-preservation to problem-solving and mission orientation. The third step is taking action for impact. There are four specific areas we all need to be aware of as we come together as a community to combat the Coronavirus. Each of us is responsible for all of us! We need to take care of ourselves and then from there, move the circle of influence outward. So, it means to take care of ourselves, then…the people closest to us (our family, our colleagues and our neighbors). And then…take care of our city, state, nation, and world. That includes doing all the things that the EDC & WHO and other health care professionals, our president, and government officials are telling us to stay healthy. This is no time to be careless. We can’t understate the importance of washing your hands thoroughly, making sure that you’re disinfecting your cell phone and your computers & any of the surface areas that you utilize most often, right? Taking those steps to take care of yourself means that you’re also taking care of others. Secondly, let’s not neglect the people that are important to us. We have an unexpected opportunity to spend time with those closest to us – to develop deeper relationships. And, create memories that will last a lifetime. While I don’t want to underplay the seriousness of all the external factors that are taking place right now, there is a silver lining…we can push the pause button of time and really invest in the most important thing – that is, relationships with people we care about. Thirdly, let’s remember that we are a resilient nation. We have faced adversity time and time again throughout our national history. A foundation of our nation’s identity is that we come together, we take care of each other, and we overcome every obstacle TOGETHER. This is our moment… it is our time, as a multi-generational nation, to come together and overcome this external threat, AS ONE. We’ll only be successful if each person steps up to do their part in defeating our enemy – the virus. Fourthly, we all have to hold the mindset that blame is not a solution. Unity – with hope – and taking proper actions is our solution. Without all of us, AS ONE, the enemy will invade our territory. So again, there is a silver lining in this difficult challenge. Coming together as one, we will overcome every adversity… and, emerge stronger as individuals, communities and as a nation & world. Leaders, it is our responsibility to influence this combination of spirit and action – to impact success! So, in summary, we need to come together courageously and manage our changing circumstances.  Here are three steps to take, as a leader, to navigate through this change.

Number one…connect with people. They want to know that you care and understand.

Number two… influence!  Guide people along the change curve in the context of who each individual is uniquely.

Number three…take action for impact.  Start with those in your inner circle and expand your reach.

Blueprint Leadership
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