Bo Parfet on Professional Leadership During Periods of Change and Uncertainty
The idea of neuroplasticity asserts that brains can reorganize themselves in response to experience and should give us hope that we can adapt to changing circumstances. We know that having a flexible approach to change is possible, but how do we as leaders focus on the positive over the negative during periods of uncertainty?
The first tip to foster positive attitudes during periods of uncertainty is to remind your team of their autonomy.
The way we talk about change has a powerful impact on how it is perceived. Leaders and their teams mustn't feel powerless during times of uncertainty. Research demonstrates that people tend to accept change more favorably if they have an active role in decision-making during periods of uncertainty. Therefore, leaders should consider how they can empower their team to make change feel natural to them, even despite short-term inconvenience.
When evaluating this phenomenon in action, COVID-19 unsurprisingly provides us with a thought-provoking example. Some workspaces offer their employees the option of where, when, and how to work. When the world was turned upside down, it became clear that not every person prefers to work from home, let alone have the resources to do so. Suppose leaders can encourage their teams to choose whether they would like to come into the office or continue to work remotely. In that case, a team may find that they can stabilize both morale and productivity, which is crucial amidst atypically unsettling times.
Another tip for leaders during periods of uncertainty is to guide their team towards a greater perspective.
The unknown is always scary. When our environment changes, it helps to connect our new setting with a purpose or mission beyond the fear we initially experience. Remind yourself and your team that change always leads to positive personal and professional development. Our new set of circumstances will eventually feel regular. Knowing that the discomfort is typically only temporary contributes to putting hesitance to change into a greater perspective.
Typically, we bear the emotional brunt of change on our own. Studies confirm that Western cultures focus more on individuals and less on the collective, especially in the United States. To draw another example from COVID-19, the world as we know it coming to a screeching halt reminds us of how we benefit from working together and staying connected. Keeping this unity in mind, leaders should dig deep into what their team can identify as a "guiding star." Having the team stay committed to a greater purpose can shift the collective mindset away from fear and towards a kind of hopeful productivity.
My final tip is to identify the components that make periods of change worthwhile.
The past year was overwhelmingly characterized by negativity, and rightfully so. The reality is that none of the changes we faced, while positive for personal development, would have likely happened without a pandemic catalyzing us to reevaluate what we see as wants versus needs. It may not be ideal for us to reimagine our environments as more socially distant and virtual than they were a few years ago. On the bright side, there is less of an obligation to return to a routine that may not have best served ourselves personally and emotionally.
Technology platforms in such spaces as virtual education, video conference applications, and telehealth, helped us all recalibrate to the "new normal." Consider the workforce's acclimation to remote work via technology. These adjustments have reimagined how our organizations work and who works with us.
For example, an office in New York can now recruit candidates from anywhere in the world if they cannot draw a promising pool of applicants from within their headquarters' immediate surroundings. Such a global approach to hiring may have already been in place in some organizations. However, the thrust into remote work that many organizations had not experienced prior to COVID-19 exposed them to a new set of skills and resources that can improve their output long after the pandemic comes to a close.
About Bo Parfet
Bo Parfet is a real estate professional and "impact" entrepreneur. A former investment banker in corporate finance, Parfet now spends time partnering with socially conscious entrepreneurs through Denali Venture Philanthropy. This venture, which Bo co-founded alongside his wife Meredith, fuses Bo's love of business with his desire to support positive change in the world. When he isn't working, Bo is spending time with his family in Boulder, Colorado and being the Chief Growth Officer at DLP Real Estate Capital.