How Do We Lead to Create an Adaptable New Normal?

New Way Old WayMany people keep searching for this “new normal.” In my opinion, too many of them want the new normal to be just like the old normal was. But we’ve learned so much through this pandemic. I don’t want to “go back” to the old ways of working and living. Instead, I want to go forward to something new.

However, we can’t discover our new ways of living and working, if we stay focused on the “back.” We need to focus on creating an adaptable “new” normal.

That means we need leaders to help continue to investigate and adapt. Let’s start with my working definition of leadership.

Define Leadership

Some people think leadership is the act of saying, “Come this way.” They think the leader is solely responsible for setting the goal and the direction. Worse, they might think the leader is the person who tells people what to do and how to do it. This is a parental view of leadership, which works when children are too inexperienced to understand the consequences. (IMNHO, this is why teenagers frustrate their parents and themselves. Parents and teenagers don’t agree on how to evaluate the consequences of the teenagers’ actions.)

However, we can have a more nuanced discussion of leadership as adults, especially as peers.

When I think of leadership, I think of how we decide on all these aspects:

  • The goal we want to accomplish.
  • Organize ourselves to accomplish that goal.
  • Our agreements/culture so we can work together.

This is part of creating a culture. (See How Do We Create Culture?) If we want to create an adaptable new normal, that means we need adaptable leadership.

Define Adaptable Leadership

I don’t see how to separate adaptability from resilience.

If we are adaptable, we can notice a change. If we don’t notice when reality changes, we can’t move forward.

That ability to see reality and decide to work with it allows us to generate options and experiment.

Those experiments help us see options to create small steps and reinforce our resilience. Then, it’s about how we learn from the experience and see what changes we want to amplify and which we want to dampen.

If we apply these ideas to leadership, the first piece for me is to see reality.

Lead to Create an Adaptable New Normal

We can see the reality in several ways:

  • People have experienced remote work in the worst possible way, and they have learned from it. We know how to do remote work well.
  • Many people never want to go “back” to the office again, the way we used to.
  • We need some in-person experiences, to reinforce how we work together (organize) on what (goal) and how (agreements/culture).

Creating a continual “hybrid-remote” experience might not work for anyone—except managers who want to see people. (See Five Questions to Create Your Successful (Hybrid Remote) Cluster Team.)

If you can train yourself to see your reality, you can use your adaptability and resilience to create an adaptable new normal. You can lead. It starts with seeing reality.

That’s the question this week: How do we lead to create an adaptable new normal?

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