Most of the U.S. is about to be gripped by winter weather throwing us headlong into the winter season, whether we like it or not. These weather changes force most of us to change our normal routines, and may even have greater impacts like canceling events, trips, and completing specific tasks. Yes, Mother Nature sometimes has to come out and announce that we aren’t always in charge.
For leaders, we can use this as a learning experience – finding leadership principals in a place where you least expect them and maybe even provide you with an opportunity to practice some new and/or rusty skills. For example:
– Adaptation – I once had a colleague that said they would never hire a person who did not at least play a video game at some point. His reasoning was – that you can plan for several possibilities, but the game usually results in an unanticipated or an unexpected change that forces you to adapt. Winter weather forces us to adapt to changing conditions, availability of resources, and sometimes how we have to accomplish the task. (How are you going to get that project done, if the network is down? Or, you can’t physically make it to the meeting in Chicago?) As leaders we all have to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. So, use this time to practice a bit – do you have a Plan B or C or D?
– Reflection – When you are stuck in the airport due to a flight delay – how do you use that time? Or, all of a sudden you don’t have to take that trip or go to that meeting – how do you fill the void? You might take this time to do a bit of reflection. As leaders, we need to build in time to our schedules to reflect on how things are going. What resources could have been better used? Do you have the right tools? Use these unexpected down times – to start practicing the art of reflection.
– Listening – In the din of all the noise, preparation, and chaos of the season – there are times when the office is empty or you are walking to the car and snow has created a hush. You might reach into your toolkit and really start listening to the important things. Because of the noise you may have to really focus – thus you are practicing listening in the extreme. Similarly when you get the extreme quiet – you need to focus on the individual sounds – again practicing listening at the opposite extreme. Use this time to sharpen that underutilized skill.
I am sure you can find some other leadership skill opportunities – networking at holiday parties, practicing patience, and renewing a sense of excitement and wonder. Take this opportunity to look for ways to improve your skills, while dealing with the challenges that life places in front of you.
Enjoy this time – it is a time of awakening and growth.