I am Nora Stolz, entrepreneur, executive coach and well-being strategist with a background in finance, technology and positive psychology. I support individuals and organisations to navigate the new normal of remote working effectively and with compassion. It's time to upgrade your leadership.
This is not a fire drill
If you worked, like me, through the financial crisis back in 2008 / 2009 you probably noticed the signs and you could see the parallels already a few weeks, if not months' ago. And you probably knew immediately: This is not a fire drill.
In contrast to the financial crisis: This time, we are fearing for life, loved ones, our personal freedom..it's not 'just' a financial meltdown.
What the world needs today are positive and decisive leaders.
Leaders who are agile, who are compassionate, who have empathy, who can engage and inspire their teams.
Read below to find out how you can navigate this uncertainty and what the little tricks are, what mind hacks and support systems are in place for you to be(come) an inspiring leaderDecisive & compassionate at the same time.
Humans and animals alike respond to threat usually with a fight or flight response. Some animals freeze to deal with anxiety. They blend in, they don't move. That's their tactic until the threat has disappeared. This tactic though doesn't work for humans - at least not anymore. The coronavirus is real, it is not going away if you close your eyes and sit and wait. Whatever you do, do not freeze. Be(come) decisive. Make decisions fast, learn, iterate, adjust...
Fight or flight. But leaders, please do not freeze.
Do I have to talk about emotions?
Yes, because emotions direct your feelings, and your feelings direct your thoughts, and your thoughts direct your actions - and your actions direct your, your teams and your organisation's results/outcomes. Take time to understand your own emotions. Unless you are a robot, you are probably experiencing some elements of anxiety, uncertainty, or fear. These are not dirty words. It's okay to be uncertain, it's okay to be worried, it's okay to be afraid, it's okay to be frustrated. Emotions are real things - but we all can learn how to deal with (uncomfortable) emotions. Mindfulness helps you to learn about your emotions and direct them into helpful territory.
Your emotions direct your outcomes!
The pressure cooker of 'employee productivity'
Let's face it, unless you gave your employees the permission to work remotely years' ago, they probably are not set up with a quiet spare room, a professional chair and work station to be their most productive self. Yes, hindsight is a beautiful thing! Freelancers, consultants and self-directed entrepreneurs and coaches like myself are experts in how to work remotely, how to be disciplined, how to have an intrinsic motivation, how to remain happy, positive, upbeat and to keep productivity up even in uncertain times.
So how can you turn your employees to productivity machines at their kitchen table - from one day to another? You can't. Full stop.
Today’s world, today’s work is NOT about being hyper productive and maximising every move. This is not the time. We are all just trying to hold it together. You, me, your employees.
Yes, productivity will dip. But don't be afraid of that. Sometimes it needs to get worse before it gets better.
'Resilience' is my middle name.
The harder I fall, the higher I bounce.
We are all learning to work in this new setup, while we are dealing with uncomfortable emotions, lack of exercise, lack of socialising, lack of daylight and far too many screaming kids in our homes. We are only one week into the WFH experiment; but most people are already learning that it's a real stretch: emotionally and physically. Soften the blow for everyone by be(coming) a compassionate leader.
Start with yourself first.
What can you do as a leader, manager to support yourself?
Put your oxygen mask on first
1. Grow mentally, emotionally & lead with empathy.
Consider hiring a professional coach you can work with once or twice a week via Zoom. Talk through your own emotions and challenges. Find solutions that work for your own setup, so you are in the strongest emotional and physical position possible. These are exceptional times for all leaders. This is your chance to grow, lean into your growth cycle. The money you are saving on your personal trainer right now, perhaps re-allocate them to a coach.
Shift your mindset into 'growth mode'
2. Learn about your individual team members.
Connect with your team on a 1:1 basis. Be open, hold 'off-the record' conversations and find out how they are doing. What's their individual set-up? Do they have kids? Are they worried for underlying health issues? Do they suffer from allergies that make it even more difficult? What’s their home set-up like? Is there enough space for two adults and three kids and a dog? Do they need an additional screen? Perhaps noise cancelling head phones? Perhaps an additional seat cushion for their posture? Are they exercising enough? Or perhaps, they could benefit from some emotional support?
Encourage an individualised best-practice-work-set-up.
Some of your employees might like to take 30 min for yoga before the daily stand-up, others might need 30 min of piano practice to soothe their anxiety. Know what they need and give your employee the space to be(come) empowered, self directed remote workers.
3. Engage your team.
Be open, proactive and personal in your communication. Develop routines and habits that work for your team and the individuals. Consider implementing a daily live virtual video stand up for everyone. Have a banter Slack channel and call it 'The WaterCooler'. Embrace wins and little achievements - praise personally in a 1:1 as well as openly. Remain positive and optimistic in your tone and leadership. Encourage sharing of helpful, supportive anecdotes such as personal experiences, wins and learnings. Empower each and every one of your team members!
Be personal and even more mindful in your style and way of communicating.
Over 80% of context is removed when we work remotely. Lots of opportunity for misunderstandings.
Don’t sugar-coat if there are issues, but lead through uncertainty with dignity and grace. This means at times you might have to modify your expectations and check in if these are realistic given the (individual) set-up. This is your chance to lead and build a strong team spirit. We are all in it together!
4. Be(come) agile.
Agility and compassion are the most valuable human leadership currencies in a crisis. Agility to move fast and to navigate with an open heart and mind; and compassion to arrive with your troops on board. Without a team, without your troops - you are not a leader. This means at times, you do have to let go of hierarchical blockers. We are all navigating through this with very limited visibility and we are all in this together. Make sure your team knows you are with them in their boat - you won't let them go under.
It requires an exceptionally calm leadership mind to manage fear, anxiety and uncertainty, to control your behaviour and to remain agile in your mind. Reflect:
How are you personally coping with uncertainty and ambiguity?
Check in if your ‘control freak’ brain (which we all have!) is taking over. Remember an agile mindset is needed to seize opportunities. Know if you are getting overwhelmed, you'll noticed that your decision making is delayed or hempered completely. If that's the case: welcome, you hit freeze territory in your brain. Close the laptop, take a break of 30 min, do a breathing exercise and reset. But above all, please please avoid reaching this 'freeze' point because an overwhelmed mind usually takes significantly more than 30 min to reset, more 3-5 days! Remember, when your brain is overwhelmed, you are not able to make a decisive decision fast.
Be agile, be open,
make mistakes - but
keep on moving forward.
Seek support and invest in growth
I have been coaching leaders, executives and entrepreneurs for over five years. As a passionate and qualified positive psychology practitioner and strengths-based coach, mindfulness expert and yoga teacher - I can teach you how to remain calm, positive, inspiring in these times. Coaching is the best kept secret of the top performers. This is the time to upgrade your mindset.
What I can offer
Via video, audio or Zoom, GMT/CET time zone. Weekly or bi-weekly sessions .
Starter: 1:1 Coaching for leaders: weekly 1:1 coaching for leaders and managers: How to navigate uncertainty, how to build resilience and how to be(come) an inspiring leader in these times. Are you ready to lead through the ‘war'? (50 min)
Team: Weekly Happiness Boosters for the team: helping you and your team to develop happy habits and come together as a powerful unit. Builds team spirit, resilience and employee engagement. (60 min)
Team: Virtual Live Yoga & Well-being Invest in mindfulness, physical and emotional well-being to become more resilient, physically and emotionally stronger. (30 - 40 min)
For team leaders, C-suite only: Talking Circles: Moderated by me, we are getting 8 leaders or C-suite together to share best practice, learn from each other and I will share one mindset shift concept at a time with you - then we discuss. From resilience building to how to motivate remote employees.
Simply book a free 15-min consultation with me via email or phone and let me know what is of most interest to you from 1:1 coaching, team activities, to leaders talking circles.
Email me or call me and we can figure out how I can best support you, your team or your organisation overall on this journey.
WhatsApp Call: +44 7590470078)