The title of today’s blog is a quote from Robyn Woods, CEO and Founder of The Uncomplicated Family. I interviewed Robyn a few weeks ago for the BEx Exchange Workshop on Leading Through Change. I found myself enthralled with Robyn’s wisdom, outlook, and candor about leading a company through relentless change. Though this interview was for a specific event, I asked Robyn if we could share a few portions of her interview with this newsletter audience.
If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that I’ve been on a journey to find examples of companies that are built for humans. The company that Robyn has built and her leadership style is an excellent example, and I think you’ll see that reflected in her answers.
How important is experimentation for you as a leader and within your team?
I think it’s about showing up and being authentic. It’s also about inviting healthy conflict. We need diversity on our teams. I really invite that it’s OK to fail forward. When we make decisions, we’ll make sure we’re safe, but we’ll make a mistake or two along the way.
People don’t fear change, they fear loss. How do you handle this a leader?
In order for new things to come in, we need to say goodbye to others. But, resistance to change is also fatigue. Dealing with change is exhausting. And so, we have conversations on wellness. We need to be our best selves so we can move forward.
When leading change, as a leader, I have a big vision. I have to step back and ask, “Am I safe right now?” I think about what I can do for the next hour, the next day instead of trying to resolve all the things that will happen in a year.
There was a time when I didn’t know if my company would survive. I thought of worst case scenario—of my company failing—and then asked myself, if that would happen, would I be safe? Would I still have my family? My health? That reminds me that I am not in jeopardy in this moment. It’s also knowing that I am not my company. There are other distinct things about me. I’m a wife, I’m a creative person, a mother. I knew there would be other things that would stay if my company didn’t make it.
Leaders have to regulate the heat within ourselves and others. What are some strategies you’ve used to motivate your team into action and to decrease the heat?
Sometimes it’s a simple as getting alignment and getting a deadline and then putting it out there. We’re not just going to talk about it, we’re going to launch.
To decrease heat, it’s about resourcing differently and backfilling. We focused on problems as projects. We gathered and white boarded out all the things we were facing. Then, we figured out the priorities, and delegated to someone who had those strengths. If that person isn’t on our team, we’ll hire a mentor or vendor to help. I want to make sure people don’t feel alone, solve the problems together, and then resource them properly.
In terms of COVID, in the first six months, we were on adrenaline. The next six months will be about compassion. We can’t sprint forever.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned related to helping people thrive during change?
Well, what does thriving mean in the context of COVID? Let’s be clear, it won’t be the same as it was. This creates some great dialogue and gives everyone a path forward. Sometimes it’s about adjusting your expectations. I’m celebrating that I live to fight another day. We’re not giving up when we adjust expectations, rather we are evolving.
As you can see, Robyn strikes the important balance of being candid and compassionate. She is relentlessly optimistic and relentlessly real. If you’d like to hear more of her interview, you can find it on YouTube. I hope you will leave as inspired by her words as I did. And if you missed the BEx event where Robyn’s interview was featured, the recording and supplemental features are on sale until December 31st. This three-hour webinar is packed with strategies and tools for leading and thriving through change. While theory is great, tools are better. I know these tools can change how you lead change.