How the Pandemic Changed My Leadership Style
When the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020, at first I tried to recreate my office life at home—shut doors, silence on the other end of the phone line, and a desk space far away from my living space. In my attempt to recreate that office “quiet zone,” I ended up working out of my family’s storage space in the unfinished part of the basement. Needless to say, spending my time in a dark and dingy basement was not exactly an ideal way to boost my mood during working hours or promote excellent work. It became apparent very quickly that pandemic work from home had to shift along with my leadership style.
I embraced the “home” piece of working from home and, as the co-chair of our firm’s Business Litigation Group, encouraged my colleagues to do so as well. That meant hearing a dog or child interrupt a call with a bark or a question. Or scheduling a meeting around a team member’s family dinner or allowing myself and others to take calls outside, from a playground or in line for school pick up. Litigation by its nature is a 24-7 job and we must be available for our clients whenever an issue comes up, but COVID-19 changed the need for everyone’s “walls” to be up at all times. We know each other better as a result and that makes for stronger client and work relationships, which is something good that has come out of such a difficult time.
Most importantly, the pandemic helped me break down my own walls and barriers, and develop a new way of leading with a true focus on meeting people where they are emotionally. Effective leadership comes from empathy—acknowledging that you understand what the other person is going through and working with them to be their best self in that place, to get the best results. This style has allowed me to be more engaged with my colleagues and to meet them on a deeper emotional level to achieve success together as a team.