I stood in the narrow doorway, the radiology doc in front of me and the tech on my right. The old building’s ceilings were getting lower, and the solid brick wall on my left seemingly moved tightly in. In an out-of-body experience, I watched my face while I listened to the tunneled words being said.
This was supposed to be routine, but it wasn’t. There was something, and yet it was unknown. A CT scan was to happen immediately. Then I was swiftly taken to the next procedure.
My mind raced. What was I going to tell my husband and my kids when I got home? Problem was, there wasn’t anything I could say, because it wasn’t routine. Whatever we faced before, our resiliency carried us. Ah! What about the office? My team? The work?
Fast forward a week – we had more information. It’s time to break the news to the team. I was facing major surgery soon, with three months of recovery. Timing wasn’t great (is it ever?) since we already had a team member out on maternity leave.
The reaction? Full support! Not a worry at all, nor a bat of the eye. The warmth and appreciation I felt is indescribable, knowing that the team felt they could handle everything.
While in recovery, and since returning, I have been reflecting on a few things that contributed to the resiliency of my team, and the business. Components that may have had an impact:
- Transparency: if a leader hasn’t been open and forthcoming with their team – their leadership team at a minimum – in the time leading up to a curve ball of life, it’s likely going to be very hard to step away quickly. My choice is to over-share information, and so my team was up-to-date already on all of the things I was working on, the things I had taken on for our team member on leave, and who contacts were for various aspects of the business. I can’t imagine the stress it would have caused if these things were needed to be downloaded in a tight timeline!
- Empowerment: I have really, really smart people on my team. It makes me smarter to have them around, and it makes the business stronger. What’s the use of having all of that brain power if they don’t have the freedom to make decisions, solve problems, and try new things that could be of benefit? What if these choices come with disapproval after the fact when something doesn’t go quite right- why would they try anything? Each member of the group has my trust, and they work together, brainstorm amongst each other, and can tackle situations that come. When I broke my news that I needed to step away, everyone already had confidence that they would make the right decisions when needed.
- Team: the adage “there is no ‘I’ in team”! Focus on the “team” – the we. Together, we can cover it all. Even when one or two of us are out for a bit, WE are all still one unit. Fostering that takes effort and conscious consideration, but it is a critical component for success.
There are more, and continued reflection will bring them to light – along with things to fix that can contribute to our resiliency. For now, I share my gratitude to my team for being a CEO who is able to step away for a time, and the ship still sailed.