LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

How to Maintain Strong Relationships and Culture Despite Remote Working Conditions

By Leadership Resources 04/13/2021
Office having a Zoom happy hour

The “virtual office” isn’t a new notion by any means, but the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the world has made remote work the norm rather than the exception for countless businesses. While some companies saw a smooth transition to these workplace changes, others had a more challenging time adapting to them and continue to struggle with the ramifications of working from home. There’s no denying the obvious differences between in-person and remote work (e.g., no more commutes, less interaction, adjustments in hours, etc.), but these surface-level distinctions have broader implications on productivity, mental health, relationships at every level, company culture, and more. Those companies that can hold onto and even improve these aspects of their enterprise in the midst of such a global shift will have a major advantage moving forward, and every employee will benefit to boot.

Let’s go over how to manage employee relations effectively and maintain a strong culture despite remote working conditions.

How to Keep Relationships While Working Remote

Don’t Avoid Company Culture Conversations

When everyone is suddenly working from home, there’s often an elephant in the virtual room that needs addressing. That metaphorical elephant represents the clear change in communication and culture that occurs when people stop seeing each other face to face. Rather than ignore the obvious, though, leaders should point it out and spark conversations about workplace culture, how it’s changed, and how it can be improved. These conversations will keep everyone thinking about and discussing tangible short- and long-term goals that can be achieved virtually and, when the time comes, in person.

Take Advantage of Modern Technology

We’re fortunate to live in a time that offers so many methods of long-distance communication — phone calls, video chats, text-based chat rooms, and message boards, etc. While there’s no replacement for in-person interactions, there are also countless opportunities to keep in touch with team members throughout the workday when working remotely. If you’re concerned about keeping up with employee relationship management, then use this technology to your advantage in practical and creative ways — have regular video meetings to go over projects and discuss new ideas, host virtual happy hours weekly or monthly to unwind and discuss non-work-related matters, replace the time normally reserved for commuting with remote coffee or breakfast check-ins with employees, have lunch over video call with team members, the list goes on. The bottom line is this: communication is key for maintaining strong management-employee relations, boosting team morale, and fortifying culture. Of course, you’ll want to make sure each of your employees has access to the necessary technology to partake in these various virtual activities.

Encourage a Proper Work-Life Balance

Finding a healthy balance between work and non-work can be a challenge for many people, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Of course, striking this balance is even more difficult during remote working conditions. Working from home creates a dynamic in which it’s difficult to separate one aspect of your life from another. Even if you have a dedicated home office, you’re never far from your living room, TV, child/children, pet(s), etc., during the workday. And when you’ve finished your work for the day, it can be hard to switch your brain from “work” to “play” when you’ve never left your home to begin with. This lack of boundaries between work and life can quickly lead to burnout and negatively affect one’s mental health. It’s up to leaders to encourage and exemplify a healthy work-life balance, so employees don’t feel trapped in their work or too distracted to get anything done. You can do this by:

  • Providing resources for employees regarding these matters to help them achieve a positive balance in their own lives
  • Establishing boundaries that limit or restrict work-related communications to a certain range of hours (e.g., 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.) so employees aren’t tied to work at all times
  • Prioritizing productivity over hours worked, so employees feel free to set their own hours and work at their own pace

Different companies will have different ways of promoting a good work-life balance; making this a priority and leading by example is one of the best leadership qualities you can have.

Recognize Your People and Accomplishments

Lastly, don’t let virtual work take away from the important ritual of workplace recognition. Whether in-person or remotely, everyone likes to feel seen for their contributions and accomplishments, and recognizing your people for their hard work is key in maintaining strong relationships and strengthening your culture. In many ways, employee/team recognition is more important than ever now that so many of us are working from home, as it’s normal for people to feel underappreciated and unseen when siloed from their coworkers and managers. Letting your people know that their work and fortitude haven’t gone unnoticed is an important role for all leaders during this time and in general.

Remotely Challenging Times

Navigating leadership in times of stress and change like the ones we’re currently living in is no walk in the park. That said, current remote working conditions provide the perfect opportunity for companies and leaders everywhere to test their strengths, bolster their weaknesses, and create an even more cohesive company culture that can withstand the most difficult circumstances.


At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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How to Lead Despite COVID Burnout

By Leadership Resources 03/19/2021
Woman wearing a mask burnt out from COVID-19.

One year ago, when COVID-19 was just starting to acquire its pandemic status, few people could have anticipated what the following months would have in store. The early toilet paper shortages and panic buying seem somewhat quaint compared to the havoc wrought on individuals, families, and businesses between then and now. With effective vaccines and rapid distribution on the way, there is now a light at the end of this tunnel. That said, even when the pandemic ends, the world will have to deal with its consequences for many years to come. 

Business leaders are already looking ahead to what the future may hold while battling the burnout that has plagued everyone, from students, workers, leaders, and owners alike. As we’ve discussed before, the stress of leadership can be daunting enough to deal with during normal times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this pressure. Businesses everywhere have had to lay off or furlough employees, suddenly switch to remote work protocols, reduce hours and customer capacity, adjust their supply chain, implement intensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, and so on. One year in, people everywhere are on their last legs, and leaders are no exception.

How to Lead Your People if They’re Burnt Out from COVID-19

Prioritize Self-Care and Stress Management

When challenging times arise and work piles up, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself past your limits to keep up with deadlines. You might be able to go on this way for a little while, but eventually, your work will suffer — more importantly, so will your mental and physical health. This common situation describes burnout, and it can take a long time to reignite the flame. It’s better to prevent that proverbial flame from burning out in the first place by maintaining its heat and oxygen through self-care. In our previous blog on managing leadership stress, we discussed key ways to take care of your overall well-being, such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation when needed. Encouraging your employees to do the same by sharing your experience with these stress-relieving techniques is key for preventing (or at least mitigating) COVID burnout in your workplace. When everyone feels motivated to take care of themselves first and foremost, they will be better equipped to handle the challenges before them.

Keep on Communicating

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: communication is one of the most important leadership qualities there is. And during COVID-19, strong communication has never been so crucial. At the most basic level, your people should be regularly informed about how the business is navigating COVID-related challenges. Any updates and changes must be clearly delivered, and everyone should feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns. Considering the nature of this pandemic, you may need to convey these messages via virtual meetings, emails, and other means. To keep burnout at bay, your communication style should be steeped in empathy — if you’re feeling burnt out, odds are your peers, partners, and employees are, too. Use your emotional intelligence to understand the shared and unique challenges faced by others to enhance your organization’s sense of community. Hosting virtual and community events will help you maintain and improve your company culture so everyone feels connected and valued.

Simplify Your Processes

If anything good has come from COVID-19, it’s that this pandemic has revealed what matters most, both in terms of everyday life and in business. While the initial shock of COVID sent many businesses into a frenzy, many that have been able to recover have gradually adjusted their priorities and trimmed the fat in key areas. Simplifying your processes by streamlining tasks, delegation, and your broader vision can reduce the risk of burnout and ultimately reshape your business in positive ways. You might, for instance, realize that remote work is a powerful tool for team management and that it greatly reduces overhead costs associated with rent, energy, commuting, etc. Every business and employee is different, of course — while some might appreciate the freedom of working from home, others might require more structure and crave in-person encounters. How you decide to adjust and simplify your processes during this latter portion of COVID-19 and afterward will depend on what you learn during this time. The key is paying attention to what your people are feeling and how it’s affecting your bottom line.

Keep the Big Picture in View

As we stated earlier, the implications of COVID-19 will carry on far beyond its official conclusion, contributing to leadership stress and potential burnout. As such, you must view this situation as a marathon rather than a sprint. The day-to-day doings of your business matter, but thinking too small and short-term can cloud your judgment and impede your view of the future. Of course, looking too far ahead can induce plenty of stress in its own right. To avoid burning out in either sense, you want to achieve a balance between short- and long-term thinking, where the way you handle things each and every day is informed by where and how you wish to steer your team and enterprise. In order to accomplish this, you must focus on becoming more adaptable and resilient, regularly taking stock of what is and isn’t working so you can fine-tune your business for the future.

Providing strong leadership in times of stress and change is no small feat, but it’s essential for alleviating burnout in yourself and your team. Taking care of your own well-being, maintaining emotionally-intelligent communication, simplifying your operations based on necessary changes, and implementing long-term thinking will allow you to lead your organization to a brighter future despite these challenging times.


At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Is Stress Killing Your Productivity? The Counter-Intuitive Reality of Taking Time to Self-Manage and Pursue True Longevity

By Leadership Resources 12/24/2018
stressed

In the workplace, it often seems like nothing matters more than productivity. In theory, when workers are more productive, the business thrives, profits increase, and everyone is happy. But productivity can come at a cost. The truth is, people only have so much mental and physical energy in a given day to get things done. And it doesn’t take much to push someone over the edge into the land of stress. Stress tends to take a hit on productivity in the long run, so there is a fine line to walk between working hard and burning out. This applies to leaders and staff members alike So, how can managers help employees deal with stress? And what about managing leadership stress?

Encouraging Self Care

The workplace is meant for work, of course. But if a work environment offers no small escape or time away from work duties, the quality of work will suffer. Therefore, a workplace culture should encourage staff and leaders to take some time during the workday to socialize, refuel mentally and physically, play games, and step outside for fresh air. These little things add up and allow all team members more space to gather thoughts and gain perspective.

At first, this all might sound counterintuitive. After all, the goal is to increase productivity. How does playing a pickup foosball game or taking an extended coffee break get anything of value done? Well, these activities reduce stress and allow one’s brain to reset. People will come back to work refreshed after partaking in a small act of self-care, and their work will be better as a result. So, in the long-term, these seemingly pointless excursions can increase productivity.

11 Ways To Create Accountability And Increase Productivity At Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

Fostering an Open and Honest Environment

Stress is like pressure and often feels like it. It gets bottled up and eventually will explode if not released on a healthy, regular basis. So, leaders and staff members need a way to air their personal and work-related concerns in an open environment, free of judgment. A company’s culture and values should allow every employee to feel comfortable speaking their mind to their peers and managers when necessary. Otherwise, problems get swept under the rug and fester. These issues can devolve into resentment or worse.

There is nothing more harmful to productivity than a workforce that feels stifled by a lack of communication. Things may occur in a company or office that leave some team members angry, confused, or feeling left out. Leadership in times of stress and change such as these is more important than ever. Leaders must not only reassure all staff that their concerns are being heard, but they must actually listen and act accordingly. Otherwise, that pressurized stress will eventually boil over and the team might fall apart completely.

Long-term productivity sometimes depends on short-term sacrifices. Sometimes a staff member just needs a personal day. Others might need an hour to blow off steam and recalibrate priorities. The work will always be there. The key is to ensure that the work gets done well. A workforce that is overstressed and unable to communicate will eventually fail in this pursuit, as will leaders. Managers and employees alike must encourage each other to take care of everyone’s well-being first and foremost.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. To learn more about what we do and why, contact us here.

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How Self Care Can Improve Your Performance as a Leader

By Leadership Resources 10/03/2018
leadership development omaha

Some modern media have portrayed the hardworking leader as a sleep-deprived, stubborn, borderline manic individual obsessed with the bottom line and neglectful of self care. While some people do fit this category, most do not. This stereotype can be harmful even if it’s meant to lampoon and discourage this behavior.

In reality, the best leaders make time to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being able to balance the challenges of work with the importance of self care is one of the most important leadership qualities. Failing to achieve this balance is a strategic error and bleeds out into the rest of the business.

Ignoring the needs of one’s mind and body hurts one’s ability to think, focus, and help others in need. Conversely, engaging in self care boosts the mind, body, and spirit, which lifts those in proximity up as well. Here’s a deeper dive into how self care can improve your performance as a leader.

  1. Proper Sleep: Alertness and Ability to React

The science of sleep still largely remains a mystery, but researchers have found a critical link between good sleep and improved work performance. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 29% of workers regularly feel sleepy while at work. Missing out on a good night’s sleep can consistently lead to a loss of focus and increased irritability.

When work piles up and deadlines loom, people often put sleep on the back burner. This is a big mistake. The importance of proper sleep can’t be overstated, especially for leaders. Effective leadership depends on maximum alertness. By sacrificing these precious hours of slumber, leaders are less equipped to react to challenges, prioritize tasks, and help other employees deal with stress of their own. Conversely, getting proper sleep allows one’s mind to refresh, retain important information, and handle new problems as they come.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

  1. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

While improper sleep plagues a large chunk of the population, so does poor nutrition and exercise. So many workers and leaders are always rushing from one place or task to the next. To keep things moving, people may skip meals or grab the nearest, fastest option from the vending machine, fast food line, or microwave. While these choices may be convenient, they can do serious harm to one’s work performance.

Foods low in nutritional value can result in more trips to the bathroom, sure. But beyond this, they can also negatively impact brain function. Nutritional science is ever evolving, but most studies have shown that a diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and minimal sugar contribute to improved mental health. Additionally, regular exercise doesn’t just improve metabolic function and burn calories, it also produces endorphins which increases alertness, reduces tension, and improves mood. In this way, eating well and exercising are two of the best ways of managing leadership stress.

  1. Setting an Example: Helping Others with Self Care

Self care does not equate to selfishness. Quite the opposite. By practicing self care, leaders can do more for employees. How can managers help employees deal with stress? First, they can share their own experiences of dealing with stress with employees. By giving advice on sleep patterns, diet, exercise, and other methods of stress reduction, leaders can set a great example for the workplace.

Additionally, leaders who practice self care will have more energy to help employees. With enough rest and restoration, leaders can prioritize their workload to set aside time for helping others, honing these crucial leadership skills. With a workforce committed to self care, everyone benefits – and so does productivity.

Leadership in times of stress and change truly tests one’s abilities. Self care should remain at the forefront during these times, for the sake of leaders, employees, and the business itself. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity.    For more information, contact us here.

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