When C.S. Lewis published his wonderful work, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in 1950 it was a part of a series; The Chronicles of Narnia. The inspiration for the series was the time when three children, that had been evacuated from London during the blitz, temporarily came to live with Lewis near Oxford for their protection from the bombs falling nightly on London. Through his story, Lewis provided a place where they, and us with them, could escape their isolation.
Lewis created the story of a magical kingdom, Narnia, that existed from within the wardrobe in the spare room. There the children flourished through adventure, discovery, and the strength of finding themselves and their abilities.
Many workers are now facing a new form of evacuation, as we deal with the wretched blitz of the Covid-19 virus. None of us have likely ever seen such a change in our society, businesses, family, and working arrangements. We've certainly never had to respond to such a situation, let alone so quickly.
For many, this now means working remotely with very limited social connection, beyond the distance of a screen. In a way, we are very similar to Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, the characters that Lewis created, as we now effectively isolate to protect ourselves and others from this terrible virus that uses us to spread so easily.
Since very few of us just happened to have a ready home-office just waiting for this scenario, we have found ourselves hastily preparing a work station, probably similar to a study desk. Our workplaces arranged for the right connectivity and the video conferencing, and so we packed our necessities and headed home.
We are often told that people don't like change. Our new response to that can be to remind ourselves of just how adaptable we are.
Now there's just our families or house-mates, our screens, and maybe the dog. It wouldn't be a video call if there wasn't at least one bark in the background, reminding us that there is a life beyond the screen, the work, and the world that resides on the Internet. Yet now we have far greater limitations on interacting with that world.
Many from your team are in shock. They may feel isolated, and feel anxious as nobody can predict for how long this is going to last. These feelings change daily, sometimes even hourly, for all of us.
We've written before how humans are social beings and the importance of having social connection. The workplace has long been an important part of our social network, but now it is only two dimensional and is lacking so much because of that.
The study desk, the TV, and our phones have become our 'wardrobe'. They are where we find adventure and discovery. As managers, we now need to nurture our own capacity to find, embrace, and explore our unique capabilities, as well as encourage it in our teams.
So Change Agents - what we need to complete this analogy is a 'Lion'. Will that be you? Will you be the one who uses this time to nurture the capacity of your team, and allow people the autonomy to find their unique contribution?
Will you be nurturing discretionary effort, or will you try to enforce compliance? Choose wisely.
There will be managers out there who are video calling their team regularly, just to check that they're working. Others will be calling to check and test that their authority is still in place. These managers are seeking control, and the problem with that is that it most often stifles creativity, willing contribution, and discretionary effort.
What everyone needs most right now, as we try to cope with the wickedness of a virus that uses our social strengths to cause such devastation, is our own time to process what is happening around us, how we can take care of ourselves, and still find a way to contribute to the things that matter to us.
When we made The H Factor system, we designed it around the things that people need in order to fully contribute to a meaningful purpose. Business for humans is our new tagline, because the system is designed around the natural human desires and the need for all leaders to nurture them. It has never been more important.
Please, take care of yourselves, your family, and your team. Stay well, and do all you can to limit the spread of this terrible virus.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.