Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Something is happening. And yes, there is a pandemic and yes, our lives are upside down, but there is something else too. Burnout has become a topic of conversation in health care, in professional services and in education. Being on the front-line, needing to constantly adapt how to do the work, not physically being with our team, and being online are all highlighted as the reasons for burnout. But what if it is more than that?
Here is the thing. What we are not seeing is the root cause. We assume the root cause is the pandemic, but if you dig deeper it is more than that. The pandemic has laid bare the lack of a focus organizations and systems put on the REAL work – the work on and with people. We focus on the technical – the medical knowledge, the learning plan and curriculums, the subject matter expertise, the use of technology. These are all of the technical elements of work. While important, the real issue we are dealing with is that we have not valued the growth, development and ways in which we do the people side of the work. The “soft” skills: how we engage with, and honour the thinking of others, understand different perspectives, offer ideas, and have cognitive (as opposed to emotional) discourse. How do we determine collectively what is right, not who is right? Without solid foundations and skills for the people side of work, when we are stretched and challenged, the work suffers, people struggle and teams wither. We call it bad behaviour, but every system is designed to get exactly the results it gets.
As I think about our Campfire Chat coming up with Les Woller, he is consolidating his 60 years of work experience with a suggestion that we rethink how we act in the workplace. He posits that we have to revise the definition of leadership to be “the willingness and ability to support others in the discovery of meaning to effectively meet the situation they will encounter”. It is not about doing, it is about growth. This is the real work. The work of growing others that we have effectively ignored for years, now at our own peril.
Want to learn more? Come to our Campfire Chat with Les on April 16, 2021 at 12:00 PT/1:00 MT/2:00 CT/3:00 ET and 4:00 AT. It is a great way to end the week, reinvigorate your thinking, and reflect on your own leadership journey.