From very early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and the (quick) transition to working from home presented many challenges, in both our work and personal lives. More specifically, nutrition professionals and dietitians had to move from working in lively, collaborative, team environments, with regular meetings and networking opportunities, to, in some cases, having to work on our own from home in a make-do ‘office’. Projects have been disrupted, lab work and human trials have been halted, conferences and work trips have been cancelled and face-to-face teaching has stopped. We all had to quickly, and rather unexpectedly, adapt to a new normal. Leadership has been facing many challenges and we have discovered, and mastered, new ways to communicate at work. For example, some of your team members may have young children and be home-schooling, others may be living on their own and struggling with this isolation, some may have even become unwell or have a family member affected directly by COVID-19. On the other hand, we no longer have to commute, spending more time with family and appreciating the local area, with regular walks and bike rides.  All these home-working environments come with their own unique challenges, and it is important, as a leader, to be understanding and considerate about this.

During these extraordinary times, the ENLP Blog team published a special series ‘Leading during COVID-19’. From this series of blogs, we have gathered some tips from leaders in the field of nutrition and those providing leadership training: Alison GallagherLouise MennenRenger Whitkamp and Rick Koster. Here, we have picked out their top tips, but for more inspiration, you can read the individual blog posts from each expert.

  • Meet with your team members not only to discuss work but to check that they are OK.  Be proactive – make sure that it is you as a leader who is initiating this contact. When possible, try meeting your team members outside for a walk, or give them a telephone call. Full, sincere attention is the number one thing you can give to others.
  • Appreciate that both your and your team’s workload and time management may have changed – be adaptable. Communicate that you are understanding of this with your team and reset expectations.
  • Learn from this time, and realise there is no ‘normal’. Let’s try and incorporate this new flexibility going forward beyond COVID-19!
  • Take care of yourself, for example by taking regular short breaks, doing something you like, rediscover your hobbies.
  • Maintain your energy by balancing your work-private life.
  • Be kind – both to ourselves and to one another.