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This Summer I joined a conversation with Alison Rose and Debbie Wosskow OBE (hosted by Allbright).  After 27 years at the bank, in November last year, Alison became its CEO.  At the same time, she also became the only female CEO of a major British bank.  Her gender isn’t really as interesting to me as the fact that she is the CEO of a listed company willing to openly and vulnerably share how she is leading and personally navigating through this pandemic.

Alison’s openness and unashamed I’m just being me, and you be you approach to leadership stood out.  She leads “with” her diverse team recognising that there isn’t only one way of doing things.  She talked about being focused during lockdown on being highly visible and highly communicative across the bank recognising that a lack of sharing & communication “creates a vacuum people will find a way to fill” as they struggle to work out what lockdown really means for them and their families.

She admitted that she’s been both emotionally and physically drained during lockdown from being accessible online, all day.  Working even harder to connect with people and missing all those emotional clues we usually pick up and take for granted when we’re physically with someone.  How refreshing to hear a leader vulnerably share how they feel about working this way!  Like Alison, I’m beyond grateful to have been able to work and continue to earn during lockdown. My job remained secure and due to the wonders of technology I can walk up my stairs from breakfast and get straight to work. 

AND, like Alison, I have been constantly exhausted from working exclusively on-line all day, every day.  At one point during Lockdown you could find me researching the symptoms of post viral fatigue I was so consistently drained.  I’m wide open to any ideas to keep my batteries from going flat and make this way of online working work for me.  Alison is using the principle of Radical Prioritisation to stop her own lights from going out.  So off I went to experiment with this for myself.

Here’s my take – Radical Prioritisation is about asking myself:  once I’ve done what I have to get done, what work can I choose to do next which will fill me up?  This approach feels good to me and allows me to keep refilling and topping my energy levels up so I can keep going and not crash (when trust me, I’m no use to anyone).  Radical prioritisation has become my friendIt’s a fresh, energy feedback-based approach to building my work schedule.  It’s not without some navigation.  My idea of what to prioritise wont be the same as anyone else’s.  Nor will my idea of what kind of work fills me up (I LOVE catching up with my team v. checking invoices, not so much).

But I trust myself to know what “I have to do first” then “what I get to do next”.  Also, like you I’m sure, I have a long and constantly changing to do list with some spontaneous curve balls thrown in for fun.  But this is a flexible principle and allows me to focus on what I have to in any given moment, then, I can keeping returning to this methodAs when I have more energy not only do I feel better but I can then give and live more.  I don’t have to allow myself to be swept away with tiredness by robotically sleepwalking from one thing to the next. I realise Radical Prioritisation may sound chaotic and disorderly to some.  It’s one of the reasons I’m so glad a CEO like Alison explicitly raised it as a viable and credible way to work!   It also requires that you have a certain level of autonomy over your work schedule which I realise not everyone has. If you do, it might be worth giving it a try?

There was a lot more to the conversation than this but I think this was such a needed reminder of a really useful tool.  One which has helped me to move the needle in the right direction and away from a “constantly exhausted” setting.

Alison is a leader I will continue to follow and look to learn from as she navigates the times ahead.



Lauren x

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