This Is What Leadership Looks Like

Google announced they would not recall their employees to campus, or back to an office, until July 2021.

Kristi writes for Juggling Normal and Medium. This post first appeared here, and is published in full with permission.

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Photo by Kai Wenzel on Unsplash

This is significant because this is what leadership looks like. As leaders, we have to make judgment calls, be decisive, set deadlines, and communicate our decisions.

Think about the clarity that this decision informs, all the people this decision impacts: the 123,000 full-time employees, some working parents, their spouses, and children.

One of the hardest things about quarantine life has been the uncertainty, the unknowingness, and the ambiguity. Working parents especially have to plan their lives, school, and their family’s futures.

When they are working from home, but it’s temporary, and they don’t know how long it will last, it causes unnecessary stress because there’s this looming anxiety that everything is going to change again, but when? Surely, maybe, working parents will have to return to the office, but the timing is a moving target, impossible to pin down, despite its significance.

It’s such a gift to say to your employees, here’s when we are returning, yes, it’s true, anything could happen, and that date could change, but you have a year. You have another year of working from home.

Then, it’s no longer an experiment.

It’s no longer something to endure or wait out. A year is long enough to embrace your new reality: to capitalize, to plan accordingly, to maximize it, and to do your best.

Instead of toughing it out, it shifts the mentality from making it work to implementing WFH best practices that are strategic and successful. It’s the new normal.

How can you extend this to your own life?

If you’re the boss, give your employees the same courtesy. They are people too, weathering a pandemic. The more certainty you can provide, the more clearly you can communicate your decisions and the context that informed them, the more your employees can show up confidently, get on board with the new normal, and rise to the occasion.

Asking them to hang out in limbo indefinitely is insensitive and demoralizing. They will remember how you handled this crisis.

If you’re a parent, decide between remote learning or in-person learning for the first semester, first half, or next year of school, whatever interval makes sense for your family. Talk to your kids, teachers, and administrators, and once the stakeholders have weighed in, consider their opinions and advice, talk it over with your partner, and decide.

Take the pressure off by reminding yourself that no decision is irreversible, and take comfort in knowing that waiting to decide puts unnecessary stress on you and your children. Waiting it out is almost always worse than choosing.

Your children want to know what to look forward to; they want time to adjust to the plan and talk to their friends, no matter what you decide. They look to you to lead, to set the tone, and communicate expectations. Tell them what’s best for your family, even if it’s different from what your neighbors or friends have decided.

Explain your decision in non-negotiable, but empathetic and loving terms, and offer your children a forum for expressing their opinions on an ongoing basis. Agree to reevaluate in real-time.

Leadership isn’t just a privilege of the biggest, most profitable, industry-leading companies. It’s how we guide and decide our own lives, with integrity, transparency, alignment with our values, and grace. It matters. Be human. Trust yourself, consider ideal outcomes, and be generous with those whom your leadership impacts.

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