Your Masterclass In Leadership Courtesy of the Pandemic
It’s hard to say no at work. And pushing back during a global recession, may feel career limiting, if not career ending. Mel Robbins, Personal Development Expert and Best-selling Author, shared how to set work boundaries during her session at the Massachusetts Women’s conference last month. She shares how to say no, improve your productivity and elevate your leadership skills.
Mel wisely reminds us that change creates opportunities. But keeping a positive mindset is critical for the resilience we need to seize them. “As we’re all learning in this pandemic, we’re not stuck where we are,” Mel said. “I think one of the biggest opportunities when it comes to managing your mindset, particularly for success, happiness and feeling like you’re still in control, is realizing that everything is pivoting out there.”
Pivots, a rapid change in direction, abound in the pandemic. It’s dizzying but there’s an upside. Mel explains, “Have the confidence to try new things, to pivot, experiment and adjust course. Make sure that you are going up and down, with the up and down changes.” Yes! Although the increased mental load makes it difficult, she recommends how to reclaim space for focused work by setting limits. Like with all things pandemic, there are hidden rewards. And Mel explained, “It’s an opportunity to move from being busy to more strategic. Understand that the name of the game at work right now is strategic alignment.” Amen. But how?
Get Clear on Your Organization’s Priorities
Mel explained, “It’s not the time to be emotional and reactive. Make sure that you’re grounded in what’s important now. Here’s a secret that you need to know, every single company on the planet right now is being forced to pivot, in real time, every single week based on the changes that are unfolding.” It’s critical but many businesses fail to communicate these changes across teams. Mel said, “Every single Monday that you show up for work, I want you to ask yourself, ‘are the things that I’m working on this week aligned with what my boss and management cares about?’ And if you don’t know the answer to that, make sure you get the answer to that from the person that you report to.”
Push Back on Busy Work
Mel said, “Because once you understand what the strategic aligned projects and deliverables are now, you have the ability to say the most important word on the planet when it comes to managing your mindset and your workflow, and that’s, no.” In a culture that praises busyness, we’re conditioned to say ‘yes’ to everything. And we often forget that setting boundaries is healthy.
Reduce the Meetings & Boost Productivity
Mel outlined several strategies you can use to manage expectations while reducing time spent in meetings.
Don’t go to every meeting.
Meetings throughout the day make it difficult to have any deep work time. Mel said, “You do not have to show up at every video conference call that you’re invited to. In fact, it is such a powerful move to write back and say, ‘do you really need me on this? Because I have deliverables this week and I’m trying to carve out time in my schedule to work on them.’”
Elevate your visibility. “One of the reasons why that’s a really powerful move, is because when you respond back and outline what your strategic objectives are this week, that’s a moment of visibility,” Mel said, “Because I guarantee you, nobody knows what you’re working on, and one of the things I want you to think about, is what strategic work are you doing, that’s visible.” She added, “And that’s a way, in the virtual world, to both say ‘no’ to video conference calls and elevate the visibility of what you’re working on.” Brilliant!
Replace yourself. “Here’s another opportunity, because I know you may be managing someone, you can send somebody else. If you’ve been looking to raise another woman’s visibility, this is your chance. Have somebody attend (the meeting) on your behalf, just make sure you take the extra time to teach and empower them to attend that meeting. And also how to capture notes in a way that you’re empowered.” Mel explained.
Reduce Zoom fatigue. “The next thing that you can do, that I don’t think a lot of people think about, is you don’t have to turn on your camera. So, if this is not mission critical for you, you certainly can just call into the video conference. And that way you can be working on other things,” she said.
Allocate deep work time. “Think about the difference it would make if you had a team meeting and you put this out there as a possibility. What if for one week we tried not scheduling any video conference calls until 11:00 AM? What if we tried that just for a week, to see how it impacts our productivity? Because being able to carve out a small amount of time where you can hyper focus, you can get a full day’s work done in 4 hours. Because let’s face it, today what’s happening is you get 8 to 10 hours of multitasking and being barely functional on one project,” Mel said.
Embrace Your (Unconventional) Leadership Training
Mel explained what many of you feel at work. “When the pandemic hit, every company had what I call an over functioning anxiety response. Which is, when you meet uncertainty, you get busy. Oh-my-gosh-I-don’t-know-what-to-do, so I’m just going to do everything at once,” she said. But we can choose to resist that negative impulse.
She added, “If you think about it, the greatest leaders on the planet all have something that you’re getting trained in right now. The first is resilience and that’s the ability to meet any moment in time and not have it hijack you emotionally. And the ability to pivot so, try some new things! And don’t be scared to say no. But it all starts with getting aligned, with what the company actually cares about now.”
Many thanks to the amazing Mel Robbins for her wonderful breakout session at the Massachusetts Women’s Conference! I discovered Mel when I read her book last year, “Stop Saying Your Fine.” It takes a deep dive into uncovering goals that are meaningful to you. Then introduces her practical riffs to change self-limiting habits. She also has a series of other books and podcasts on Audible.
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Mel Robbins is the international best-selling author of The 5 Second Rule and four #1 audiobooks on Audible. Her online courses about confidence, courage, and mindset have been taken by more than half a million students. The first print run of her science backed productivity planner, The 5 Second Journal, sold out worldwide within minutes. She’s one of the most booked motivational speakers in the world and is the CEO of a media and digital learning company serving a global consumer audience and Fortune 500 brands.
This year, she launched a nationally syndicated daytime talk show, The Mel Robbins Show, with Sony Pictures Television. Her work on behavior change has been translated into 36 languages and is being used by veterans organizations, pediatricians, and other medical professionals in clinical settings, and by top brands like Starbucks, JP Morgan Chase, and Microsoft to inspire organizational transformation. Her social media platforms inspire more than 60 million people every month and her TEDx Talk is one of the most popular of all time, with more than 25 million views.