3 Ways to Navigate the Detour of COVID-19 & Intentionally Build a Better New Normal.

In December 2019, we all lived in a different world. Leaders and their organizations were moving full speed ahead in automatic on a pretty predictable road. That smooth, predictable road became a dark uncharted and uncertain detour when a little known virus became COVID-19, a deadly pandemic. Authorities required State and National lockdowns to flatten the curve. Today, your 401K is a 201K, your kitchen office doubles as a school with the kids, and Zoom is now a noun and maybe some other descriptors as you and your team members, church, or family members meet virtually regularly.

Then there is also anxiety in the face of this threat, you can’t touch or see it. In times of crisis or detour, it is natural to want to fight or flee to get off of the detour fast, and back to the road, we knew “the normal road.” Some people will also freeze and do nothing, waiting for the normal road they knew to reappear – magically. Leaders know they are now both hands on the wheel through the detour. Leaders can navigate the detour and learn to find or build a better road. Leaders can choose as Craig Groeschel of the Life Church, and Global Leadership Network says,

“We can do better and create a better new normal.”

Craig Groeschel

Review Your Intentional  Leadership Mindset

Leadership is an inside-outside process. Your mindset, your beliefs are always seen by those you lead and serve. In a crisis, your mindset is on center stage. Your leadership mindset is crucial as it will direct all your actions and provide a model for the actions of others. You can display and encourage an open mindset to learn, serve, and build a better road moving forward. You can also display and encourage a closed mindset to do nothing. Your mindset determines your choice and the outcome of the trip through the detour.

Implement an Intentional Plan of Social Connection while Being Physically Distant

Social connection is a basic human need. In times of crisis and uncertainty, people crave connection more than in quieter times. An intentional connection plan is crucial to those you lead. It is also vital to every group that comes in contact with your organization, customers, vendors, the delivery person, and even your competitor. Plan your communication using a concentric circle model pictured below to make sure you connect to all in those circles. Make sure you get to every circle closest to the farthest.

You, as a leader, can communicate persistently, clearly with care, gratitude, authenticity, and with purpose. Consider an intentional plan beyond the typical zoom meeting. Don’t underestimate the power of “thank you” and “I am sorry” or a handwritten note or personal call. Show you are present to all you serve and lead. They all want to see you and hear from you.

Develop an Intentional Process of Reflection, Learning, and Application Moving Forward

Leaders and their organizations can learn from the trip along the detour and build that better new normal road by being observant, curious, and creative. The leader can model this by the use of questions and listening. Consider these questions:

  • What have we learned today or in this process?
  • What can we use moving forward?
  • What don’t we need to move forward?
  • What are some possibilities?
  • What adaptations did we make that we can build on later?
  • Who have we added value to in this process?
  • Who do we need to reach out to?

Reflection, learning, and application in these times create a solution mindset, an openness to try new ideas, a future focus, and a hope for a “better new normal.”

Life is an open book full of blank pages. You write the story as you go.

All organizations, businesses, governments, churches, and families will have a story about the COVID-19 detour and their emergence to the new normal road. Your intentional choices about your mindset, connection plan, and reflection, learning, and application will determine the story you and others will tell about the time in the detour and emergence. You and your organization will either tell the story of how you emerged weaker from the detour to an average new normal or stronger to a better new normal.

You are the driver during the detour and the author of the story.

How will you navigate the detour?

What story will you write?

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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