Leadership Teachings: The Three Simple, Most Impactful of 2021

By December 16, 2021Leadership

2021 Did Not Go As Planned

You packed a punch, 2021. You did not go as planned. “Plot twist” seemed to be the one thing we could count on over the last twelve months. That said, we all have enough going on as we roll into 2022, that I’m making this retrospective easy. I’m sharing the three simple, most impactful things we’ve been teaching leaders on repeat this year.

Supporting All Kinds of Leaders

We have the deep honor of supporting a cross-section of leaders from c-suite healthcare executives to CEOs of professional services firms, federal government leaders, non-profit executives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. 

Every leader has their own complex challenges to navigate, and everyone has been trying to figure out how to:

  • Keep people connected, and productive in hybrid work
  • Support people who are struggling, feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and/or grieving
  • Help teams who are trying to flex and adjust to so much

Three Simple Ideas to Help Leaders

We bring our leadership teaching bag of tricks with us to every zoom room we enter, but if you asked us

“Hey, Thrive Team, what are three simple things you’ve got to help a leader out?”

Here’s our list of the top three:

1 – Huddles

There are all kinds of ways to keep your team synched up, but the huddle is by far the MVP of hybrid work. Wherever you’re working, trust and morale will go up if people feel connected and in the loop. We recommend a daily huddle.

Here’s how it works:

  • Use your group text space (Slack, Teams, Google chat, regular old text)
  • By 9 am everyone on your team has posted:
    • Priorities for the day
    • Their schedule (Picking my kiddo up at 3, back online at 4:30)
    • Questions (things people need help on, need to coordinate, etc.)
    • Bonus: Add in some fun social questions (What are you binge-watching? Favorite 80s song? What holiday smell brings you back to being a kid?)  

That’s it. Everyone has a quick (less than 5 minutes) synch up, questions get answered or time gets scheduled to connect on them, we get a sense of what’s going on, and we’ve made contact with the real humans we work with!

2 – Agreements

Every leader we work with deals with tension at work. The saying on our team goes: “You can work by luck, assumptions, or agreements”. We all know what assuming does, and eventually, luck runs out, so about those agreements…

First, two truths about humans:

  1. When human beings work together, there will be tension. It’s normal. How we handle it is what counts.
  2. Adult humans don’t like to be told how things are. We do much better when we are a part of deciding how things are.

You can make an agreement with one person or a whole team:

  • It starts by asking “what matters to us as we work together?”
  • Based on what matters, put together proposals for how to work better together.
  • Choose a couple of proposals to test out for a week or two.
  • Come back for a critique to figure out what went well and if there’s anything to change.

Then you have an agreement everyone can support. You also have the effective language to use when there’s tension. “Do we need an agreement?”

3 – Empathetic check-ins

Things are hard. The overwhelm is real. The burnout is too. One of the best and easiest tools leaders have is check-ins. We taught healthcare leaders this year a go-to formula to help their teams feel heard, seen, and valued in the midst of everything.

  1. Start with: “How are you?”, “How’s work going?”, “How are you coping?”
  2. Listen (no judgments or interruptions)
  3. Get curious about what they say: “What is that like?”, “Tell me more”
  4. Validate their experience (show you’re hearing them): “That makes sense”, “That’s understandable”
  5. Help them get to a small action: “What’s a priority for you today?”, “What can you do today?”

We work with leaders in coaching sessions, small group coaching, leadership programs, and leadership team retreats, sharing strategies, guidance, and tools to take on the challenges you’re navigating.

Other Common Teachings This Year

What are some other leadership teachings that came up this year?

We got deep into how to:

  • Experiment your way forward
  • Use five communication structures every team needs to work hybrid
  • Make good decisions when nothing is certain
  • Make work visible when you’re not all in the same place
  • Get leadership teams synched up and moving forward together
  • Delegate and engage each other when overwhelm sets in
  • Come off as kind and supportive even when you’re a direct, straight shooter, kind of leader

Well Wishes This Season

Whatever the end of this year is feeling like for you, we wish you moments of rest this holiday season, moments of light, and moments of hope. Whatever state our world is in, as leaders, we draw from the strength of our hope as we keep our sights set on the world we know is possible. No matter what, we’ll be right here with you, rolling up our sleeves together, as we keep working toward the progress we want to see, especially when it’s hard.


Interested in Further Discussing These Leadership Teachings?

We work with leaders in coaching sessions, small group coaching, leadership programs, and leadership team retreats, sharing strategies, guidance, and tools to take on the challenges you’re navigating. Whether you’re leading an entire organization or a part of it, we’d love to speak to you more. Get in touch to talk about leadership coaching, leadership design work, or book a call to discuss further.

Jen Margolis

About Jen Margolis

My passion is helping people find and use their strengths to move toward their biggest vision. My career began as a community organizer with refugees and grew to designing and facilitating programs for international professionals including grassroots women leaders in Egypt. These experiences led me to management consulting focusing on strategic planning, leadership development, community and education based program development and executive coaching.