Recently I had the pleasure of moderating the first-ever virtual Women in Leadership panel at the American Biomanufacturing Summit. The panel consisted of senior female leaders of Allakos Inc, Amgen, bluebird bio, Roche, and Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. Each of them brought a different and rich set of experiences and knowledge to the virtual table.
You athletes will probably laugh at this but humor me – there is a point – and it’s a true story!
When I was in basic training I was not much of a runner. We were doing our final test - a seven-mile run, and I was struggling at about the 5-mile mark when my instructor came up beside me and said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said; “I can see that you are getting tired and you have quite a ways to go” Then he said, “Don’t think about the end; instead just keep putting one foot in front of the other one.”
In this time of pandemic, we are intensely caring for our families, our clients, our company, and our careers—and in some cases even schooling our children at home, or caring for loved ones and neighbors. We are giving 110% to everything at once. Many of us have become adept at this, working virtually, leading meetings remotely, hurtling forward day-after-day.
But too often we are not caring for ourselves. Though we are strong, leading the way daily, our minds and bodies need breaks too.
ALULA has worked as a virtual company for years, so we’ve learned a lot about staying healthy in “the virtual life”—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here’s some advice, especially for those who may not be accustomed to working from home.
When a crisis hits, many companies turn their attention outwards. Understandably, business leaders spend time crafting external messages and planning for ongoing communication to clients, partners, and other external stakeholders. Equally important, business leaders need to craft plans for nurturing and strengthening internal relationships through ongoing communications.
As we practice social distancing, we are also practicing new ways of working together. But even as we are keeping our distance, we still need the social part! I don’t know about you, but I miss the chats during coffee breaks, going to lunch with my colleagues, or just stopping by their desk for a quick check-in. All those small interactions that we took for granted are now sorely missed.
We know that high-performing teams have two strengths: productivity (alignment, accountability, efficient decision-making), and positivity (trust, camaraderie, clear communication). Unfortunately, when we are in a virtual environment, all we can see or measure is productivity—what we accomplish by day’s end. It is easy to overlook the positivity part—the human connection—which is what really drives employee engagement. Our daily human connections are as vital to productivity as doing the task itself.
Personal Reflection: Caring for Family and Colleagues
These personal reflections are from Danielle Geissler, Ph.D. A trusted advisor and coach to many senior executives in the U.S. and abroad, Danielle boards planes, trains, and secures ride services on a daily basis to better help executives create positive, productive, and engaged workplaces. She resides at—what is today—the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. These are a few of her insights.
Have you ever been on a team that feels like it is stuck in a loop? Trapped in a cycle of ineffectiveness or mistrust? Have you ever wondered, “How did we end up here?”