Disciplined Leadership: Tools For Your Toolbox During Times of Isolation

This is part of a series of blogs on the theme of ‘Disciplined Leadership.’

tools for your toolbox during times of isolation

I’d like to share with you some questions I’ve received over the past few years.

The answers may provide you with some “tools for your toolbox,” especially in times of isolation from other members of your team. It is all about positivity.

This is an important discipline to maintain, especially in a remote or hybrid workplace, where a sense of connection may be limited. It is up to us as leaders to not let distance or isolation become an obstacle to team morale.

“What non-monetary rewards do you recommend to incentivize a team?”

One of my favorite rewards is to recognize team members in front of others. You can do that by having a particular time during meetings (either in-person or remote), where you recognize who’s been good, who’s a hero, and who our champions are in promoting our azimuth, our listening skills, our trust and empowerment—those kinds of things.

In other words: you can use the Big Six as segues into recognizing people. (It makes high-performing team members feel special, and it also helps reinforce the Big Six as a set of tools to build good team behavior.)

The other tool I really value is the handwritten note. It doesn’t cost much to pick up a piece of stationery.

Write a note to someone and say you value them and what they’re contributing to the benefit of your team. Put a good old-fashioned stamp on the envelope and mail your handwritten note. Among the heroes of this pandemic are our postal workers, who deliver mail every day.

In my experience, people are still thrilled to receive a personal note in the mail! So write a personal note to someone and tell them you value what they contributed this week to the project or a meeting that you’re having and see what happens.

I can tell you from personal experience that people often collect and keep those handwritten notes. I am always touched when I learn that folks kept notes from me. I had one person who actually made a scrapbook of them! The handwritten note is a tool for your toolbox. It makes a big difference.

“What tools and techniques do you use to stay positive?”

We can’t keep team morale high if our own morale is low. We have to stay positive as well.

One of the tools that I use is self-reflection.

I take about 10 minutes every day to audit myself and basically say, “Okay… what have you done to contribute to your Personal Mission Statement?”

I have a Personal Mission Statement of who I am and what I represent, and I audit myself every day. What did I do to fulfill some portion of my Personal Mission Statement? (I think that helps me stay, as Jimmy Buffet says, “within the navigational beacons.”)

But the idea here is to pump yourself up, right? (Like Hans and Franz, “We’ll pump you up!”) You’ve got to give yourself a little pep talk every day, do an audit, and ask:

Okay, am I being positive or am I letting things get me down? Am I going to be someone who’s always wringing my hands? That’s really not the person that I want to be.

I would encourage you to use a personal audit every day to see whether you are indeed staying positive.

Another tool I use is physical exercise. I’m a big believer in the benefits of exercise. One positive outcome of the pandemic is that I’ve had more opportunities in recent times to get some exercise! A few minutes a day, I’d say 30 minutes for sure, I get out, go for a walk.

So, exercise helps you stay positive because you’re keeping those battery levels charged. (Note: consult your medical professional before starting any new physical exercise regimen.)

Another thing I recommend is staying in touch with family. I try to contact someone in my family every day and just make sure they know I love them. We assume people know that, but that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve never met anybody who’s ever complained that they told their family they loved them too much or too often.

These are some tools you should put in your toolbox. If you don’t have them, add them.

If you have these tools, but are neglecting them, dust them off and make using them a habit — rather than something you do by exception.

Another input I received from someone: They asked me to let people know that the emotions of separation are okay, that working remotely will make them more effective in the long-run. He has personal experience with feelings of loneliness that accompany working in an isolated environment. I think he shared a wonderful insight. I really believe we can all be better people because of what we’re going through.

Positivity is such a key element of leadership. People are turning to us, as leaders. They often put their trust and hope in us.

To put it in more direct terms: a workplace culture flows from the top down. Disciplined, positive leadership is an example we can set for our entire team — and the whole organization will be better off for it.

Our positivity is going to be a game changer over time!

This blog is based on my eBook “Who Saw This Coming? Now What Do We Do?” You can get a free downloadable copy of the entire eBook here.

Enjoy the Journey!

(based on a blog originally published Oct. 2021)

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