Hey, this is Jeff Bond, and welcome to the Chat With Leaders Podcast.
We’re a platform for leaders to share the inspiring things they’re doing to lead themselves, their teams, and the communities they serve wisely. This will be my final episode this year and I would feel remiss not to share a brief reflection with this community in hindsight of 2020.
As we planned a year ago for the things we hoped to accomplish this year in our leadership, it involved witty puns around clarity, but as the pandemic took hold, everything turned unprecedentedly murky and, in many cases, turned our world completely upside down.
This year has presented adversity in forms that we never have expected and challenged the responsibility of leaders that forced them to reach deep into the core of the social contract with their teams, customers, and communities. It’s called upon ordinary, every day, servant leaders to step up, get out in front, and demonstrate empathy, genuine compassion, sacrifice, and love for those who need them most. All the while, they too have experienced despair, hopelessness, fear, and uncertainty in their professional and personal lives.
Whether in a formal leadership position or not, all people have been forced to get in touch with reality, gain perspective, and remain socially connected through virtual technology while health experts instructed us to remain physically distant to stop the spread of this destructive virus. This has undoubtedly been tough for our human race that so deeply relies on real connection with one another in order to thrive in our society and feel an authentic sense of belonging.
I too have struggled in many ways through this time. I started a new leadership role within a software consultancy that lost the majority of its revenue sources going into the second quarter, founded this podcast amidst these challenging times and built the platform ground-up alongside my co-founders, and faced the challenges of pandemic parenting alongside my amazing wife as we guided our 1st grader and kindergarten students through 100% virtual learning at home with our crazy 3-year-old running around desperately seeking attention.
Like many of you, I’ve not been able to be in person with many of those closest to me since the pandemic shutdowns started in March. On top of that, I’ve been deeply troubled by the staggering number of lost souls from Covid-19, the decision making of many of our leaders in government, the racial inequities spotlighted by horrifically tragic incidents, political polarization exacerbated by our media outlets, and the social unrest that has plagued our country.
However, despite this incredibly challenging time, I’ve been truly inspired by the faithful leadership demonstrated by our Chat With Leaders Guests and genuinely believe that we will get through this difficult time largely because of people like them who are forging ahead faithfully.
I’ve chatted with pastors, executives, authors, educators, founders, non-profit leaders, and other senior leaders who are truly paving the way for a brighter future with their actions. The words they’ve shared in our episodes have been a huge source of inspiration to me and I genuinely hope that they have been for you as well.
As we reflect on lessons learned in 2020, I want to encourage you all to genuinely love one another. Take time to step outside of your regimen to ask those around you how they’re doing. If they tell you they’re fine, ask again, and create a safe environment for people to be radically candid with you. Then truly listen to them – it will go a long way. While you’re at it, it’s ok for you to be vulnerable too and admit that you might not have solutions to their problems, but that you are working hard to remain hopeful, learn from these experiences, and support them in any way you can along the way.
The great Maya Angelou is famously quoted for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As leaders within our organizations, our impact is frequently measured by the KPI metrics of our teams and achieving specific financial goals. While leaders cannot absolve themselves of these responsibilities, they also cannot forget the responsibility they have to serve their teams, customers, and community all while taking care of their own mental health.
As you set your goals for 2021, let one of them be to care deeply about the true meaning of servant leadership. Being a leader is not about having power over people and pretending to have all the answers. We must embrace the philosophy of serving others, empower our teams to contribute, listen intently to our people, support the growth of those around us, use our influence to do good in our communities, and humble ourselves so that our ego never gets in the way of leading in a trusting environment.
Personally, I’m still mourning over all the tragedies of 2020, but I’m incredibly thankful for the perspectives I’ve gained from Chat With Leaders and this community. Although we’re not out of the woods yet with this pandemic, I’m honored to be moving upward and onward with you all as we all strive to be better leaders in our workplaces, families, and the communities in which we live.
God Bless and Godspeed.