Envisioning the Future Using 2020 Hindsight

I had the opportunity to present to the Leadership Greater Syracuse Class of 2020 members last week on their “Envisioning the Future Day.” I know what you’re thinking – how in the world can I be focused on the future when I feel like I’m struggling to manage my day-to-day schedules amid a pandemic in 2020? I hear you. We’re in this together. But I can’t help but notice that so many of the themes I see to practice during times of crisis are things we should continue even when all of this is behind us. Is it possible 2020 is preparing us to be even stronger leaders? Yes. Here are some of the leadership qualities needed today that should become everyday practices.

Be a decision-maker. As leaders, a clear mission and purpose are essential, not only for our business but also for our personal lives. Choose your North Star; that is a guiding principle that will lead all decisions you have to make.

Communicate proactively. In 2020, people are experiencing stages of the pandemic, especially quarantine, much like the stages of grief. Be empathetic. (Emotional intelligence can work wonders – more about that in a previous post here.)

Show compassion. Remember when you overheard that heartless comment? Or witnessed something that restored your faith in humanity? You have likely witnessed some of the best and worst in people’s behavior. Regardless of which you encounter, take a breath, and be compassionate.

Set clear and honest expectations for yourself and others. It’s OK to dream big, but call it what it is. Set hopeful and aspirational goals, but identify them as that. Also, be honest and transparent about what you know – and what you don’t know. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s OK to admit you don’t have all of the answers.)

Manage your emotions. In times of crisis, emotions are running high, but emotions can get in the way whether we’re in a pandemic or not. Which emotions are you most likely to experience? Anger? Impatience? How do you cope? Practice what you can do to keep your emotions in check while managing others.

Instill purpose and optimism. Debbie Downer doesn’t make a good leader. You don’t need to feel like life is all rainbows and butterflies all the time, but as a leader, you do need to have an optimistic spirit. Clearly defined roles are also vital, so that everyone knows and understands their purpose.

On that note – I think we can confidently say 2020 has already taught us valuable lessons that can make our future brighter.