As 2019 drew to an end, many business leaders had high hopes of crushing “it” in 2020. The economy was going well, many industries were experiencing growth and for the superstitious, the repeating double digits, made 2020 feel like a year that they were destined to conquer. 

Then, COVID-19 hit.

The best-laid plans for 2020 went out the window. In a matter of weeks, businesses faced uncertainty and were left without a game-plan of what to do.  

Businesses had to pivot. Some were forced to lay off employees, while more unfortunate ones closed their business for good. Leaders had to create new plans over and over just to survive. 

On the human side, leaders had to make hard personal choices and were forced to rethink their priorities, many of which affected their personal and professional relationships. They also had to navigate a new normal that seemed to change every day.

Six months into the pandemic, I wondered if anything good could come of what seemed to be an overwhelmingly uncertain and negative moment in time. Since businesses are made up of people, I know that when people suffer, business is affected. 

I wanted to know what positives had arisen from this pandemic. Relying on what always works as an executive coach – I asked a thought-provoking question. Believing that there is a silver lining in every storm cloud, I challenged my LinkedIn followers with one question: 

“With everything that has gone on this year, what have you found as the silver lining?” 

The answers flooded in and I was gladly overwhelmed by the number of positive and interesting responses people shared. To my delight, the responses included both professional and personal silver lining stories.

Below are just a few of the inspiring responses:

Francesca Gino

More time for reflection, more time with my four little ones, learning that virtual training can be impactful”

Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School Professor and Author of “Rebel Talent” (DeyStreet, 2018) and “Sidetracked” (HBR Press, 2013)

Jose DaCosta

“Personally: (the silver lining is) the opportunity to spend time with those that are most important and appreciate the blessings in our lives. 

“Professionally: (the silver lining is) the opportunity to relate to co-workers at a more human level as we all struggled through a similar issue.”

Jose DaCosta – Vice President Identity Access Management at BNY Mellon

Chris Kay

“The pandemic broke institutional processes that needed breaking. These changes wouldn’t have happened without such a disruption. We are better and more efficient now.”

– Christopher Kay – Critical Infrastructure Bureau; Assistant Bureau Chief

“I believe that the most important silver lining is the fact that each of us is forced to rethink what we do, how we interact with others, and why. These are the times for introspection… Once it’s all over, only good will come out of this.”

Isaac Rubinstein – Chief Technology Officer at Life Tech Inc

Common themes that came up on a professional level included:

  • Finding new business opportunities
  • Successful pivoting in times of chaos
  • Adopting new business productivity tools and systems

On a personal level, prevalent themes centered on personal growth and family:

  • Introspection
  • Rethinking priorities
  • The importance of family time and work-life balance
  • Greater appreciation for relationships
  • Being more present / living in the moment

On a macro level, some silver linings included:

  • Decrease in pollution
  • Exposure of flaws in the medical and economical systems
  • Boost for medical/tech companies 

What is clear to me and many others, is that this is a transformational moment, in which the goal for leaders should be to take this opportunity to learn how to: 1) better themselves and 2) better their business.

Now What?​ 

2020 has given many leaders a new perspective which is allowing them to put greater value on communication, emotional intelligence, and empathy. As a business leader, ask yourself, what are you going to do now that you have these new “silver lining” revelations

Will you recognize your silver linings from 2020 and use them to improve your business and deepen your relationships? We have a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and appreciate, despite the challenges we’ve faced. 

I honestly pray that we don’t go back to what we had but rather create something that is in line with who we should have always been – more authentic in how we live and how we work.

3 Silver Lining Takeaways

  1. Leave Complacency Behind

    With all the uncertainty surrounding us, it’s easy to want to ‘wait it out’ and see what happens or to accept the new normal. Use the insights you’ve gained to improve the way you work and how you lead.

  2. Power Up Your Relationships 

    Working from home has allowed leaders to see into the homes and lives of their teams like never before. Use this opportunity to better connect with your teams and deepen your relationship beyond the work at hand. 

  3. Capitalize On Silver Linings

    Use the insights you’ve gained to improve the way you work and how you lead. Don’t let your new understanding fade. Focus on what’s important.

I help business leaders see their business in new ways and to capitalize on silver linings.

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