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Leighton’s Leading Edge: Ramp Up Your Leadership Skills For Spring

Spring is coming.

As winter weather patterns continue their drives across the US, it’s hard for us to remember that the cold of Winter will, one day soon (we hope), give way to the warmth of Spring.  Experienced over long periods of time, cold, dreary weather often saps us of initiative.

It also seems to bring physical ailments, like the flu, and results in the psychological condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as “SAD”.   Barbara Rubel discusses some of the signs of SAD in her earlier JenningsWire blogpost 8 Signs You May Have SAD.

It’s critically important for leaders to know about SAD and how it might affect performance in the workplace.  Barbara’s blog is a great place to learn about SAD, and leaders should build on such knowledge and anticipate what might come next.  At this time of the year, they need to have a plan in place that can capitalize on the coming warmer weather and the corresponding reduction in SAD-style symptoms afflicting the workforce.

What should this plan look like?

First, realize that Spring is often one of the most creative seasons of the year.  Be on the lookout for new, innovative ideas from your employees or co-workers.  You might even generate some yourself.  Be receptive to new ways of doing business and capitalize on the energy the new season brings with it.

Make a conscious effort to show empathy to your colleagues.  While we should always do so, we sometimes fall short when it comes to “feeling others’ pain”.  Cultivate enough self-awareness to know whether or not you’re being truly empathetic and sympathetic to their needs.  Exhibiting genuine concern now will go a long way to harnessing your employees’ natural productivity this Spring.

One way to do that is to plan a corporate retreat or an off-site meeting.

Sometimes getting away for a good brainstorming session that is free from daily distractions is just what is needed to bring people together.  Retreats and meetings are also great vehicles to jump-start a new process or finalize a new strategy.  These events can take place in a near-by park or hotel conference room.

You don’t have to travel far and they don’t have to be costly, extravagant affairs.  Instead, they should bring people together in a way that focuses them on a project or a plan, even if those projects or plans are long-term goals that cannot be achieved in one meeting.  Patiently laying the groundwork through events like these can pay huge dividends in terms of employee productivity and morale.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with establishing a happy workplace.  Frankly, it’s important to do so no matter what the season is outside, but an understanding of seasonal variations in people’s moods will make your efforts in this area more rewarding.

One of the best compliments I ever received from a boss was from my Wing Commander in Berlin.

We were in the last throes of the Cold War, but we didn’t know it at the time.  That meant we were very busy tracking the Soviets and their allies.  The Wing Commander was a somewhat crusty character, but he was able to read the work environment pretty well.  He turned to me and said:  “I don’t know what you’re doing, but the people here are the happiest I’ve ever seen them.  Keep doing what you’re doing!”

That conversation took place in the Spring of 1989, about seven months before the Berlin Wall fell.  The groundwork for that “happy workplace” had been laid back in the previous Fall, when the North German nights were growing longer and sunlight was a scarce commodity.

Read more posts by Cedric Leighton, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.