My dear friend Sarah sent me this Meyer lemon tree. Lemon trees aren’t meant to flourish in Northern New England, but Meyer is doing quite well, thank you.
Meyer started me thinking about adapting and thriving under less-than-ideal circumstances and making lemons into lemonade.
This year, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and our capacity to adapt. From the many conversations, emails and zoom calls, three behavioral themes consistently emerge.
The importance of connecting with colleagues
Communicating and managing disagreement
In spite of the pandemic, these reflect a high level of optimism about our collective ability to succeed in the New Year ahead.
Connections That Build Trust
To overcome the screen barrier, we’ve had to make a conscious effort to connect with co-workers in different ways. By virtually entering colleagues’ homes and home-office spaces, we’ve become more empathetic and patient when a child or cat crashes a meeting. This conscious empathy builds trust and makes it easier to collaborate and generate new ideas.
Looking ahead to 2021, and hopefully easing the pandemics’ impact on business, we can all be proud of a personal narrative that demonstrates trust, collaboration and successful ideation.
Communicating in Tough Times
The events of this year have required us to tackle challenging issues, often involving difficult conversations. On video, we consider our colleagues’ POV’s without the benefit of eye contact or reading physical body language. We’ve compensated for the lack of visual input by listening more carefully than ever.
And that’s a great thing!
Listening leads us to become curious; curiosity generates questions. When we disagree, we’ve become more comfortable asking open-ended questions to understand other points of view. For many, this hasn’t been a completely smooth road. But what has emerged is a willingness to push past our comfort zone to have necessary and often difficult conversations.
Working through challenging conversations is a skill worth honing. When we get it right, we elevate ourselves from managers to leaders.
At the very least, we all aspire to be more mindful and self-aware of the conditions that surround us. The stress-generating events of this year make being mindful equally tricky and necessary.
Practicing mindfulness gives us the clarity to pause and assess conditions and options-at any moment in time. It takes practice. But what I’ve heard from many of you is that, with it, comes a willingness to be more receptive to new opportunities and less likely to get stuck in a career rut. BRAVO!!
As we’ve become more closely connected with colleagues, better communicators and more self-aware, so have organizations and companies. To address future business challenges, employers are creating new metrics for hiring and assessing talent. Skills historically considered ‘soft’ are leading hiring decisions.
Establishing yourself as someone who communicates well and values connection and collaboration increases your worth to employers.
In January, we’ll talk more about the six skills employers are hiring for in 2021.
Be proud of what you’ve accomplished this year.
Savor the lemonade.
Thanks for reading!
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You can also check out Forbes.com/CFO blog where I write about communicating with and motivating teams.