Weekly Challenge – Leading out of COVID

Dear colleagues,

Instead of a weekly thought this week, we would like to set you a challenge. Over the next few weeks we wanted to showcase your own thoughts and experiences to the topic ‘Leading out of COVID’ (though we know many of us are still in the midst of it). Please do send your own responses to that question (however you interpret it). We’ll help you turn them into Weekly Thoughts that can be shared with this wider community…

Do send your responses to: Elaine Vitikainen elaine@ev-visuals.com

As ways to provoke your thinking you might consider questions like:

  • What have I learned about my leadership through this pandemic?
  • What do I hope to take with me and hold onto from this experience?
  • What does my leadership need to be like ‘post’-pandemic?
  • How would I reimagine my organisation to become fit for purpose in our radically changing world?

These are only questions to stimulate your thoughts, so don’t use them too prescriptively. They are not ones to structure your response around, unless you find that particularly helpful.

Cheers

Rick and Elaine

Weekly Challenge – Leading out of COVID

Dear colleagues,

Instead of a weekly thought this week, we would like to set you a challenge. Over the next few weeks we wanted to showcase your own thoughts and experiences to the topic ‘Leading out of COVID’ (though we know many of us are still in the midst of it). Please do send your own responses to that question (however you interpret it). We’ll help you turn them into Weekly Thoughts that can be shared with this wider community…

Do send your responses to: Elaine Vitikainen elaine@ev-visuals.com

As ways to provoke your thinking you might consider questions like:

  • What have I learned about my leadership through this pandemic?
  • What do I hope to take with me and hold onto from this experience?
  • What does my leadership need to be like ‘post’-pandemic?
  • How would I reimagine my organisation to become fit for purpose in our radically changing world?

These are only questions to stimulate your thoughts, so don’t use them too prescriptively. They are not ones to structure your response around, unless you find that particularly helpful.

Cheers

Rick and Elaine

Change starts from within… yourself

By Pieter Messelink

Change is all about planning and action – or so we think. I’m learning that it is much deeper than that. For me it is about repentance – but not the superficial repentance of my youth where I simply confessed, but left sins and patterns unchanged. I am beginning to understand that repentance is a process involving observing, reflecting, discussing, planning, being accountable and acting.

I am now holding on, to ask myself “what is actually going on here?” As I ponder that I also ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me. From there, talking with other people – and what God says through them – is helping me to discover the roots of my challenges. It enables me to make a small plan, be accountable about it to someone and to act upon it. The effects: more peace and rest – fruits of the Spirit. And I’m more effective too, as it is not my own striving, but more about doing what God has already planned for me.

So much of our capacity development is superficial. We focus on organisational action plans, but in doing so we booby-trap good intentions with human failure. We also need the personal development element that only comes from regular repentance.

This week:

  • Where do you see the need for change in your organization or yourself?
  • Where does reflective repentance fit in this process? 

Become tech savvy

By Rick James

With virtual teams, you need technology to connect. So to lead well today you have to become very comfortable with technology. If you are too old for technology, then you may be too old to lead in a digital age. You don’t have to become a geek, but at least work closely with one! Consciously push yourself to learn more.

You will need to learn what technology works best and use it appropriately. Some great collaborative software exists, whether Miro, Mural, or Google Jamboards. But keep your virtual meetings short and sweet. There’s plenty of research that says that after 50-minutes our brains need a break for a few minutes (and not to catch up on emails!). Otherwise people’s productivity will fall and boredom will rise. 

It is also about using the right technology to set the tone. We have an excess of technology at our disposal. Different methods like email, phone, Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, or Slack work better for different purposes. As Ecclesiastes would say, there’s a time and a place for each mode of communication, so chose carefully how you communicate.

This week, what new technology could you learn to enhance your leadership?

A future not our own

Last week was the anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Romero, shot in the Cathedral in San Salvador in 1980, while in the midst of preaching against violence and repression. I often return to this amazing poem written for his funeral. It is a good reminder at Easter of who we are and what our contribution is.

A FUTURE NOT OUR OWN

A prayer at the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision. 

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us. 

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything. 

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities. 

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest. 

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Dealing with my stress and burnout

By Stanley Arumugam

In this time of COVID-19, many people are experiencing severe work stress and, for some, leading to burnout. It’s easy to be deceived into accepting remote working as ‘the new normal’ as work without boundaries, being available 24/7 and accepting that it’s OK not to take a regular break. This way of working is not sustainable. 

A few years ago, I experienced the severity of overwhelming work demands, a non-stop schedule that exhausted me both mentally and physically, as I capture in my poem below. Here also are some tips that work for me:

  1. Start the day with a time of quiet: meditation, prayer, journaling 
  2. Engage in some physical activity: making coffee counts, as does stretching, walking around your neighbourhood 
  3. Take regular breaks in the day: morning, afternoon and especially a lunch break 
  4. After every task/assignment, step away from your computer after every task/assignment: give yourself a sense of closure, completeness. I wash dishes as a break from my cerebral activities
  5. Make time for your family: spend quality time in the day; having a regular ritual can be helpful
  6. Stay connected with your team at a personal level: set up a virtual check-in or chat 
  7. Doodle: as you sit through long and sometimes dull meetings, release your creativity which can help your engaging  
  8. Be kind in your on-line communication: quickly discharged emails ‘on the go’ create a boomerang effect which can spoil your day
  9. Listen to music as you get through the day: whatever keeps you joyful 
  10. Examen: I use a contemplative prayer at the end of most days to review my day: what am I grateful for and imagine my day tomorrow focusing on intentional moments of love and joy

This week:

  • Which of these am I already doing?
  • Are there any others which might be helpful to try?

Life as a checklist

By Stanley Arumugam

I love checklists. On my desk, I have task lists for the day and the week ahead. On my wall is my yearly calendar with medium to long term tasks. My mobile phone gets in on the act with notifications and reminders. I like checklists because they remind me of the things to do. When we tick off a task, our brains release a feel-good achievement chemical, which can become workaholism addiction. I’m aware that checklists can quickly take over control and dictate my life’s rhythm. 

Steven Covey introduced us to the Urgent and Important time matrix. Checklists are useful for highlighting urgent task (Chronos time). But the more critical assignments in our lives mostly do not work according to task checklists. They are based on Kairos timing, which is connected to deeper purpose and seasons in our lives. Sometimes, they might even be an interruption to our logical plans. We need discernment, a spiritual sense of knowing, when to do what is right, and the best time. Discernment requires patience and giving up control, inviting us into a place of intuition and deep rest. 

As former US President Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”

  •  What is most important to me this week in my various life roles?
  • How will I create space for unexpected, essential things?

Leading with hope

This visual is a simplified version adapted from a webinar that Space for Grace facilitated on the 22nd of January 2021 for leaders of Swedish agencies supported by SMC – Faith in Development.

Maintaining your sleepers

By Stanley Arumugam

I am continually impressed with the creativity and rigour of engineering. Railways, for example, provide a critical backbone infrastructure to moving freight in many countries and also passengers in some. The hundreds and thousands of kilometres of railway track are precisely ‘tied’ together with heavy support structures underneath called ‘sleepers’. These rectangular blocks are laid perpendicular to the rails and serve critical purposes:

  • transferring the energy/load to the rail tracks;
  • holding the rails upright and steady;
  • keeping the tracks correctly spaced to the right gauge;
  • in case of derailment, if they have been properly maintained, sleepers can keep the wheels running preventing massive damage.

The distance and durability of railway lines depend on the strength of sleepers.  Railway sleepers need regular checking and maintenance.

This week I ask myself:

  • What are the sleepers in my life?
  • How could I check on my sleepers this week and give them some maintenance?