It’s been said that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. While that’s easy to say, it’s a perspective that only works well outside of the moment—the present tense. Given the world response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we face another paradox that we feel warrants discussion.

The last time many of us felt this uncertain about the immediate future, the World Trade Center was collapsing in the aftermath of 9/11. It was incredibly painful.

It occurred to us this week that what stands out as being dramatically different today is one really important thing.

Disconnected vs. Connected

In the aftermath of 9/11, our leaders and government officials implored us to respond by connecting to one another. To go out and shop, eat out, visit people, and travel freely. Today, the guidance is exactly the opposite. Work from home, distance yourself physically, stop all semblance of a normal routine. In short, what’s required of us right now in order to protect ourselves and others is to physically withdraw and disconnect from one another.

This level of disconnectedness threatens our neurological need to feel related to our peers, groups, colleagues—essentially our “tribes.” We’re experiencing fear and anxiety. Isolation heightens our pain.

As leaders, we need to be acutely aware of this danger and intentionally use the tools we have to drive connection. The EOS® tools in our toolbox can and should be used to keep the circles connected.

Maintain Your Leadership Team L10 Cadence

  • As hard as it may seem, dig out the good news, it’s in there somewhere
  • Be flexible on your timing—dedicate the reporting time where it needs to be or extend IDS time to work for you
  • Be diligent on cascading messages—what needs to be communicated to others, by when and by whom?
  • Encourage your departments to keep their L10 cadence also—remind them to kick issues up to the LT and vice versa
  • Use technology tools to keep your team connected. Seeing your colleagues' faces on a Zoom, Teams or Go to Meeting video call is powerful medicine. Use text, Slack, Teams, WhatsApp or other direct messaging apps to keep your circles connected.

Maintain Your Quarterly Meeting Cadence

  • Conduct your session virtually
  • Be willing to alter your time—a half day can go a long way
  • Talk to your Implementer about customizing the objectives and agenda to meet your specific needs. Let’s face it, COVID-19 issues are a priority, but the business issues are important also—remember, prioritization is critical. Creating clarity on all our issues is not only the right thing to do, it’s therapeutic for the group.
  • Now is likely not the time to revisit our vision. It is time to reconnect on our values and make certain we’re making decisions consistent with them.
  • Use the planning time to make quick decisions on your yearly goals, reforecast revenue projections, plan for and create accountability for taking action

Consider Using Daily Huddles

  • 10 minutes at the start of the day
  • What wins did we have yesterday? Identify those and cascade them. Embrace the practice of over-communicating.
  • What do we need to accomplish today? Who needs to connect and get help from whom to succeed today?

Tips & Nuggets on Cascading Messages from Clients and Friends

  • Consider a virtual happy hour
  • Have people take pictures of their work environment at home and share—include the family, the dog and the Christmas tree you’re still waiting to put away
  • If faith is important to you and your company, facilitate a virtual session focused on that
  • During check-ins, start with sharing what you’re personally grateful for

We’re all leaders. As leadership strategist Warren Bennis was quoted as saying “Leaders don’t simply convey the message, they are the message.” How well we keep our teams, partners and clients connected will make all the difference in the world.