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Sunday, June 7, 2020

June 2020: Journey and Justice Edition

My goal is to hit "send" on my monthly blog posts by the 1st day of month. Nevertheless, my typical blog content seemed rather unimportant this past June 1, in light of the incredible turmoil our country was (and still is) experiencing. While this springtime journey through COVID-19 and quarantine has already been historic and life-altering, the new addition of George Floyd's murder and the resulting events have my heart and head still spinning.

Thus my content for this month will include the resources that are coming up most frequently in my conversations with clients, colleagues and friends. No doubt you are seeing everyone's recommendations scrolling through your feed... I hope my suggestions are enriching and lend even a small nugget of inspiration or insight.

Management Tools. As we start dipping our toes back into "opening up" or "returning from lockdown" or "Phase 2" or whatever confusing stage you find yourself in, there are far more questions than answers, especially for those teams who have unclear direction regarding best practices for the office. While some parts of the country are giving permission to some groups to return, many have significant hesitations: Do we want to spend the money required to maintain the new standards? What will our employees with children do, given that the majority of typical summer options are still unavailable? What if infection numbers spike again because states opened up prematurely and there was a lack of social distancing during the protests? Here are some resources that have been helpful in those discussions:
    • Architecturally Speaking: Get Ready for the End of Open Office Plans. The subtitle to this article, which actually appeared in my local paper, might say it all: "How Companies Need to Change Their Office Design in the Face of COVID, Effective Immediately." Though it may feel daunting to even consider how to return, this article provides a good place to start.
    • Onboarding a New Leader — Remotely. Despite remarkably bleak employment numbers nationally, I have had more than one client need to hire for some significant roles in their organization. Unfortunately, I've heard the phrase "I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end of the pool" too often. This article reminds you of the key elements to include when bringing someone on in the midst of such chaos.
    • These 9 interview questions will set dedicated remote workers apart. More than one of my clients are genuinely considering how they might offer remote working options moving forward. I applaud this consideration; HOWEVER, I also strongly suggest that employers sharpen their pencils on what to look for if hiring for remote positions. Similar to online vs classroom education options, not everyone is a perfect fit for either one. One client I have is entirely comprised of a distributed, remote workforce, with employees around the world. Even they found these interview questions helpful. Take a look.
    • GREAT QUESTIONS FOR EVERY LEADER DURING COVID-19. I sat through a webinar that was frankly tedious and way too upbeat at most points (thus I'm not recommending it!), but smack in the middle of it was a 10-minute snippet from one gentleman that really got me thinking. He encouraged every leader to ask themselves these three questions:
    ⇨ Do you see this time as a disruption or an interruption? Interruption would cause us to seek to go back to "normal." But how do you need to adjust and move forward?⇨ What is driving your decision-making? Fatigue? Fear? Strategy?⇨ How well-positioned are you for further pivots? Agility and ability are important.
      Mental Health and Self-Care. While much of my work has included conversations around emotional intelligence, well-being and self-care, current circumstances have kicked up the temperatures of these conversations considerably. Not a week goes by now without at least one person in tears as they describe the confusion, disorientation and frustration we are all experiencing. While my goal is to assist people in developing resilience, I absolutely must start with listening and support. Here are some resources that put words to much of what we are going through:
      • If You Feel Like You’re Regressing, You’re Not Alone. More than anything, this article made me say "YES!" out loud when I first read it. Here's a great teaser: "I see this war room fatigue in the leaders right now — and in their teams. It’s real and it is infectious, and it hits you like a hammer from one day to the next." Please set aside just a few minutes to read this one. It provides a very useful roadmap for leaders who might be feeling stuck (paralyzed?) and need some direction.
      • Leading Through Grief in Life and Work. This podcast was moving, yet also quite helpful. It is an interview of a well-known restauranteur who endured the death of her sister and the loss of her restaurant in 2016. Poignant and wise.
      No Justice, No Peace. I have been on the learning journey of peacemaking, community-building and reconciliation for my entire career. That being said, I am still learning. Some might be newer to this pilgrimage and wonder where to start learning. There are too many resources to list here, but these are good places to start:
      • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Remarkable book by a remarkable man. Read this book, then see the movie that came out in January. Then make a donation to
      • Strength to Love. These are a collection of sermons by Martin Luther King, Jr, compiled by his wife Coretta Scott King. I have used these sermons with students and interns, and they simply cannot believe these were written over 50 years ago, given their remarkable poignancy for our times (how sad is THAT?). Read them out loud if you can. 
      • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book quickly sold out on Amazon in light of George Floyd, though it's still available on Kindle. Make sure you pay close attention as you read, because Kendi is going to make you work as he breaks down your preconceptions in order to hear a new and powerful perspective. While I did not agree with every word written, I absolutely loved the challenge of reading this book and engaging his ideas. Brene Brown also recently interviewed the author here.
      • Movies. SO MANY. Prioritize those made by black creators and artists: Selma, 13th, Harriet, When They See Us, Black KKKlansman, Get Out, Us. Where I am learning the most is realizing how much I need to make sure I am listening to the voices of other backgrounds, ethnicities, and perspectives, and not just those who speak from my own white and privileged experience.
      • Make a plan. What is the next book, podcast or conversation in your queue? I've got With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard ThurmanTHEN plan on remaining on this learning journey the rest of your life. Make it a habit to read and access resources from voices different from your own ~ Read a book once a month. Listen to podcasts intended for diverse audiences. Learn how to engage in conversations around equity, diversity and inclusion. 

      Thanks for reading. Feel free to send me questions or feedback at And explore my leadership development resources at KSLD Resources. Be well!


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