This is not a paper to enhance the noise of opinions, data, boring metaphors, recommendations, pathetic videos, etc. Neither is a collection of unsexy slogans for motivation. This is, without a doubt, an attempt to generate a spark in really fucked up times for all of us who seek to create, employ and take risks.
I’m talking to people who ALREADY have a business, some clients and revenue. There in the ship and moving, and they have spirit to go faster.
If you got here, you are a leader in times of questions such as: What will happen to humanity? How do we build the new normal? Will there be trauma?
Next I’m sharing with you 5 pillars you need the balls to build. And I want you to seriously absorb what I am going to tell you before we dive into it: let’s panic smartly.
The number one pillar: man up, woman up, be the lantern.
Time for you to inflate your chest and accept that the floor is too hot to be still and overwhelmed. It is time to abstract from your own default setting and reprogram that inner voice inside your head. Yes, that constant monologue. Kill that dark, pubescent, constant crappy noise. The terrible master: your head.
To do this is to create a gigantic space for what really matters: humility.
Understand the feelings people have in a crisis. The anxiety they have when they’re structures collapse. Acknowledge to them that “this is indeed scary as shit.” Summon creativity on fire to explain that there are good reasons why they should also feel confident. As a leader you should be there to remind the crew what serial motivation means, what solid engagement is. Why? In a crisis, with even the most rational strategy, a leader needs to be the lantern. How? Smiling, with humour. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, you are flexible and they should be that too.
Lantern! to lead in a crisis, we have to have build up your reputation and make people believe in your leadership by providing care. Because I tell you what: they are looking for compassion. Real compassion. “Does lanterns care about me?” “How much they really care about the company and the people in it?’’ ‘’What the deuce do my boss knows about my family’s business going underground?’’ And believe this is KEY because humans are built mostly by fear and doubt. Yep, another frequent default setting. So….rise above, smile and focus on care,
Pillar number two : Priorities, leadership, adrenaline.
We already talked about accepting things as they are. We are going to live with this, we are going to integrate it and we are going to grow as business builders that we are
Set priorities for the team. Set the tone from the top. But being absolutely visible to everyone: available to get busy on understanding unemployment in their families, the housing price crisis, etc. Keep communicating the context for the decisions you need to make and for the actions that you need to take.
I’m not going to make your priority list. That’s up to you. But set them fiercely without leaving this one behind: search leadership inside your actual team that takes serious ownership and accountability for making things run. And make that big quality blossom with true human gratitude and recognition. Then build the leadership that’s still unborn in others by inspiring character and attitude. For a leader it’s important to know who is hungry to resolve their own discomfort in order to grow (one of the virus intentions) We business builders want to travel with hungry persons. This is priority because it’s our key investment. Virus will go and wualá! Baptism on fire. Growth on the harvest. You really got to know your people. What they want, what they suffer, what they seek and how much they dare to grow.
How to inspire character? Be willing to be intense with style and humanity. Serious and focused. Picture yourself on a plane, in the middle of a thunderstorm, where the suitcases have already shot out of their compartments and suddenly you notice doubt in the pilot’s tone, then you’d better take the bye-bye pill. But if you notice a serious, demanding commander who gives instructions and demands collaboration, then there is adrenaline. And and feeling of purpose and concentration comes, and I guarantee you will survive the storm.
It’s my belief at Coda that everyone should have a sense of common purpose and that everyone can play a leadership role. Dare your team, create a constructive confrontation and seed some power.
RANK the team up and constantly analyze it to see where the talent is and take conclusions. This is a super tool. You can set 1hr every day for full focus on this matter. You are adapting your software development process for 100% remote work in the coronavirus economy by leading and encouraging leadership around you.
Pillar number three: Remote teams together: Integration and efficiency while working 100% remotely.
Every morning. As a ristretto slaps you on the neck, you will encourage the team to interact more.
Usually, the daily standup is the only meeting during the day when every team member listens to the rest of the team. The team should be motivated to perform as many activities together as possible (like pair programming on joint conferences) to keep the spirit of working together. Here is were virtual simulation occur!
Remember the office kitchen? Oh I personally miss the place. The kitchen tends to be the centerpiece of the social life of the office. People meet there while making tea, eating snacks or lunch… GONE. Thank you Matías Covid. Agency Coda created our own “virtual kitchen”, a permanent conference space, where team members share stuff, connect outside responsabilities, discuss Nespresso Vs. Dolce, Trump memes… It’s important, you know. One way to do this is by distributing 2-3 blocks a day on the GSuite or any team calendar where it is allowed to play a little, share work or personal taste topics.
After a walk through out the improvised and effective kitchen the team enters the check-up call. Time to get things done. Your team of potential leaders you are leading is already set, with their heads in a place of commitment, freedom and retained time for contemplation on this hard situation, awareness!! Having this combo settled, now we work like never before on efficiency.
Back to the morning call for check-up. USE the camera. I learned this the hard way. Don’t know why but I avoided it. No I don’t work my ass out shirtless. But simply I didn’t understand the importance of being seen by everybody on my regular clothes and sharpe. Almost as if they could feel my perfume or deodorant.
See your rank. Talk to leaders and make mostly 1-1 calls to avoid common conference pitfalls. Those massive calls have me pissed. May be a fun screenshot but they are not efficient at all. Ok, just do it once. But seriously, not good. They trend to up in a situation when only 16-28% of participants are really involved in the discussion, and the rest are just wasting their time staring at their looks. As good leaders we want to be, we should think about the impact each of the participants can generate. Focus on simple solutions. For example, when we consider a cross-team meeting, it might be better to invite a representative of each team (each time a different human) instead of inviting all team members of each team. If your line-up fails, don’t hesitate to ask a member to leave and resume their activities. It is key to be quick to detect that a presence was not finally required.
Avoid disrupting your team’s work by allowing the team to have long periods of focus. The trick is when you schedule these meetings wisely. In my case.. one after another usually help. So I suggested a company-wide policy of periods when as few meetings as possible are organized. For instance, a “no-meetings Wednesday”. This would mean that on that particular day, leaders can only organize daily standups.
Shoot unnecessary calls. “This could’ve been an email”, this phrase is as accurate as it has ever been. Remember that meetings are very disruptive events during our work. With an email or Slack message, we have some control over when to read it, which is not possible with meetings. It can easily lead to a situation when we will have at least 20% more of combined meeting time compared to the traditional in-office working fashion. That means at least 20% less work done (or even more)
Pillar number four: Attack the invisible enemy
Something that internally generated impact while leading was conceptualizing the fight against the pandemia using the tools and talent that we have. With strong leadership we continue to work but we always keep a place to think about how our job can make a positive impact in this pandemic situation. Everyone in the team knows it.
The team feels it and has the space to express itself in this regard. Sometimes creativity does not appear because there is no space. So we make room in each of our milestones and tasks for this cause.
If your designers are finishing the footer of a new site, now they may suggest a new version, a superior piece adapted to the worldwide situation. Because creativity is on. Little magical details that add up!
Everyone now with freedom and spared time to add skills, knowledge to good use! This are times were human ingenuity will be valued more. I don’t know If you noticed but so far it is helping deal with the crisis better than any other thing.
The leaders at Coda have been telling their teammates and clients that they should align strategy on a structure of agility. If you can always find a way to stay agile to tour customer’s needs, you will not just survive but profit. It would be the ability to pivot rather rapidly to do something very different, in the way that Tesla and car manufacturers are looking to reorganize their factories to make ventilators not cars, given the decline in car sales.
Another interesting bullet I like to shoot is taking note and make a brief research everyday for the numerous hackathons, initiatives and articles rounding up those kind of various efforts. Sharing them around during some of our daily check-up calls. Maybe teams can apply and participate.
Pillar number five: Give yourself a break
If you are here means you are alive. This are challenging times in deed. Again, take perspective. This is not a simple situation. You’re reading about handling it. And I’m not making any discovery with this paper, you know it, I know it. But we wan’t to give it a try and overcome this situation because as leaders we always look forward to make progress and stay focused on the path we dream.
Give yourself some quality time to acknowledge you are a good professional with empathy and talent to think big even when the world is upside down. Applause! Don’t make it hard on yourself, you’re producing, maintaining jobs and preparing your business to scale in the near future. Good for u.
To your success!
Founder, COO at Agency Coda