It’s been an eventful four months, to say the least. So I attended the Judge Business School’s “EnterpriseWOMEN – What are the winners doing?” event with the aim of using the opportunity to re-energise and refocus.
Year 2020 has been interesting and challenging at the independent asset manager BOOST&Co. I lead the Cambridge office, and one of my key areas is providing growth capital to innovative businesses. Joining forces with other lenders to form the Growth Lending Group, we support SMEs by providing the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
This is my story of the event and the impact it had on me, specifically in relation to my leadership responsibilities.
Since the lockdown, leading in a time of crisis and emerging from an unprecedented situation as a winner is something that has seemed challenging and not easily achieved. The event, however, broke down this idea into four easy-to-understand components – mindsets, habits, interactions and decision-making – while always focusing on the actions you can take right now.
We began with an exercise that encouraged us to take note of the things we are doing right already. I found it empowering to realise that I was part of a global community of female leaders acknowledging the things they had done well, personally and professionally. The pandemic has prompted plenty of new habits, different routines, as well as projects to be completed and challenges to be overcome.
An important takeaway was that we often don’t take the time to reflect upon and celebrate what we have achieved, especially in difficult circumstances. I made a note to do that more often!
We tackled the concept of mindsets first, sharing tips to ensure that we bring our “A game” to our business. This resonated with me. We were challenged to see ourselves as a resource to deploy and think about how we can avoid burnout. This comprised simple, straightforward – and important – advice that we can easily forget to implement, such as going to bed early, taking regular breaks, fitting in some lunchtime yoga and getting fresh air.
Next up was habits. Katy Tuncer, the director of coaching and products at Horizon37, introduced the concept of “productivity porn” and implored us all to get rid of it! Rather than distracting ourselves from our real work by listening to productivity tips on podcasts or reading about them on LinkedIn, Katy encouraged us to focus on the actual work that will make a difference to our strategic visions: cross tasks off your “to do” list when they have been done well enough and are no longer a priority.
I’ve found LinkedIn to be a useful tool for maintaining relationships recently, but this discussion challenged me to ask at which times it would be simpler to pick up the phone – and, more uncomfortably, whether social media is a distraction from the work I really need to do.
This led nicely to a focus on interactions. As ever, some of the simplest recommendations were the most effective – rotate the leadership of team meetings, be transparent, mix up your communication channels and ask which channel an individual likes to use (for instance, don’t assume that a video call is everyone’s preferred choice).
Finally, we looked at decision-making and deciding when to make decisions before you start actually making them. The delegates provided a number of good examples of how they were going to put this to good use in their businesses. We were all challenged to agree on the one action we were going to take and when.
The event certainly delivered on refocusing my approach; I’ve already taken the actions I committed to carry out and I’ve been reminding myself of the four concepts every day since.