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Avril Henry

Avril Henry

We have all struggled in 2020, and no one could have predicted what has been an unbelievably challenging, and at times, torturous year! As we get to the end of 2020, it is time to take stock of what we have LOATHED, LOVED AND LEARNT in this year like no other!

What have we loathed?

  • Being separated from our family and friends who live interstate and overseas; we have missed seeing them in person, spending time together, talking and laughing and being able to hug them
  • Not being able to be in face-to-face contact with our work colleagues, our sports teams, and social activities
  • The constant “blame game”, as people and leaders sought who to blame for the COVID virus, the spread of it, lack of medical equipment, increasing unemployment, difficult economic conditions, race riots and everything else that happened in 2020
  • A feeling of loss of control of our lives, our environment, and the hopelessness of not knowing what the future holds, when the pandemic will end and when we will stop feeling like we are on an emotional rollercoasterloss of control small
  • Loss of loved ones, loss of freedom, ability to visit people and places we love, loss of employment of millions, loss of small businesses and the guilt and grief that goes with such losses.

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No one is coming to save you! Your life is 100% your responsibility!

One of the things I have found fascinating about COVID-19 is the constant and predictable cycles of the “blame game”, as people and leaders seek who to blame for the virus becoming a pandemic,  lack of medical equipment especially PPE, increasing unemployment, difficult economic conditions, race riots and everything else that has happened in  the disruptive, challenging year that 2020 has become! At an individual level, we could choose to focus on what we can do to contribute to finding solutions, demonstrate compassion, appreciate others, express gratitude daily and reflect on what we can learn from the current pandemic and preceding natural disasters. Then maybe, just maybe we are ready to re-frame our thoughts, our language and our behaviour to find a way to create a “new but different normal”.

Looking back to the past and attempting to utilise solutions from the past to new, different crises will not work. We will simply create a dying future before it is even here!

In the early 2000s leaders were found to be failing in five significant ways:  

  • Not being good listeners
  • Not managing poor performance in the workplace
  • Being resistant to change
  • Not giving regular, constructive feedback
  • Lack of willingness to adapt command and control leadership styles to more inclusive and collaborative leadership styles.

These were the findings of a study conducted by a global consulting firm, and our own research at AHAA!

Fast forward two decades to the current global COVID-19 pandemic and one may say that nothing has changed for the majority of leaders! My observation is that it appears to some degree to be generational as Anglo-Saxon Baby Boomer men continue to dominate key leadership positions around the world.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated on 8 March annually since 1911. While progress has been made, given that it has been over a century the pace of change has been glacial to say the least and frankly, myself and many other women are a bit “over it”! Yes, we are mad as hell, and the older we get, the more likely we are to speak up loudly and boldly because we’ve got nothing to lose!

There are many myths about women at work that are simply wrong. Ironically these myths exist across 10 different countries as diverse as Australia, China, France and the USA, and across four generations. I interviewed 91 women from 10 countries across four generations, Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y for my book Leadership Revelations III How We Achieve The Gender Tipping Point, and women’s experiences were exactly the same. Leadership Rev III Cover HR 300 dpi

These are the most common myths about women which are just wrong:

  • Women are not as ambitious and competitive as men
  • Women are less committed at work once they have children
  • Women are too emotional, and don’t like conflict
  • Women want it all
  • Women do not aspire to leadership roles
  • Women with children don’t want senior leadership roles
  • Women don’t care about the money
  • There is a lack of qualified women for leadership roles
  • Today’s workplaces are meritocracies where the best person gets the job!
  • If women are given equality, men will be disadvantaged

Let’s look at the facts and statistics, so we can’t be accused of being overly sensitive, taking things personally or out of context, or even creating fake news!

With the COVID-19 pandemic we can be anything BUT close to you! It was however while watching the YouTube clip performed by the Couch Choir of the song Close To You, (originally performed by The Carpenters in 1970) that got me thinking about what we miss most as humans. The performance recorded earlierthis year brought both my husband and I to tears. It was sung by over 1,000 people from 18 countries around the globeand was the brain wave of the founder of Pub Choirs and Choir Director, Astrid Jorgensen. These events have been joyous and fun, filled with music, laughter, camaraderie and community.

There’s the magic word – COMMUNITY! 

I believe what everyone is missing due to self-isolation is exactly that – community, as humans we long to be close to each other. We miss the communities we belong to through work, sport, social clubs, pubs, family gatherings and social events with friends – weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, christenings and even funerals to farewell loved ones with dignity.

So, what do we do? Many of us find ourselves in a “no man’s land”, and we are confused, frustrated, angry, sad, disbelieving and hoping this is a bad nightmare and we will wake up tomorrow and everything will be “back to normal.”

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