COVID and remote work has changed many things, including my personal ideas about what it means to be a leader.

By Wendy Wilsker
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I used to think that as a team leader and senior manager of an organization I had to literally be the “cheerleader.” No matter how my day began, and before entering the office when I turned my car off, I would pause and pump myself up for the day ahead. We have all seen the “wonder woman” pose – I would sometimes strike that pose in the parking lot and walk into my office.

COVID and remote work has changed many things, including my personal ideas about what it means to be a leader. 

Last fall, I was on an important Zoom meeting with our Senior Management team.  My house cleaners were downstairs and my puppy, who had just been spayed, was upstairs in her crate with her plastic cone on her head. Suddenly, I heard the cleaning people shouting and realized that the dog had escaped from her crate. I muted my screen and typed in the chat that I had to excuse myself.  Not only had the dog gotten out of her crate, but she had chewed through her cone.  I returned to the meeting, puppy in my arms, hair out of my neat ponytail, and with sweat at my brow. It’s a moment one of my colleagues shared is her favorite of mine, “Suddenly I saw you – the real, behind the scenes, Wendy.” she shared.

"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are."

Brené Brown

Brené Brown (American Author, researcher, and storyteller) talks about vulnerability and authenticity, and maybe it has taken us working through the pandemic and from home - with kids, dogs, and the chaos of life - to instill in managers the reality of what being “an authentic leader” really means.

I’ve changed as a leader over the last year. When I was having a bad day, I didn’t strike that “wonder woman” pose. Maybe it was wearing workout clothes under my scarf and cardigan or maybe it was pure emotional exhaustion, but I shared my emotions and my challenges in a way that I hadn’t previously. As a team, we were meeting virtually, and eventually became closer as we “Zoomed” from our homes. Today, we are talking about “returning to normal” post-pandemic.  But maybe that “old normal” wasn’t real at all.

Looking ahead, I do miss my work clothes, even my uncomfortable high heel shoes.  I can’t wait to meet in person again, whether in an office or restaurant. But now, I think I’ll leave my lint remover at home and show up with some dog hair on my blazer!

More Blog Posts by Wendy Wilsker

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