leadership shift during the corona crisis - claire van hoorne

#55: The leadership shift during the corona crisis – with Claire Van Hoorn, a senior leader

Claire has been very successful in the past, but last year, like everyone else, she had to deal with the COVID and face a leadership shift during the corona crisis.

Who is Claire?

Claire is a mother of two, she lives near Brussels with her husband and has been working for Procter & Gamble for thirteen years. She just started a new function as the corporate marketing leader for France and the Benelux. She has done a lot of different brand functions within the P&G portfolio before and also started out here.
A real coincidence, because I also started out at P&G many years ago. The thing I remember the most is all the methods and training I got there. I remember to be drilled to think in a certain way to make me very efficient.
But anyway, back to Claire 😊.

Then COVID hit us…

Last year, Claire and her team were doing very well, in fact, they were projecting a growth of 7%. But then, the corona crisis hit us. Suddenly, that growth turned into a loss compared to a year ago. That had a great impact on the mentality of the team, who had been working very hard to achieve results. At first, they thought it would only last a couple of weeks, so everybody started to work harder to power through the tough period, but then, everyone started to realize this pandemic would go on for way longer than everyone had thought.
At that point, Claire felt completely overwhelmed. She had to take care of her kids, she had to support the team, she had to be there for her husband, who works in the ICU at the hospital. And while doing this, she noticed she barely had enough time and energy to be there for herself. That’s when she decided she wanted help. Not only for herself but for the rest of her team as well, who were all struggling with the pandemic. That’s how I came into contact with Claire.

Identifying struggle points

Like I said before, Claire was feeling drained because she didn’t have the time and energy to take care of herself. And that is also what happened with the rest of the team. People just didn’t have enough energy and balance anymore. Everyone was exhausted from powering through this tough period. For many people, some habits that served them before the pandemic suddenly didn’t serve them anymore. For Claire, it was connecting with the team around a table, divide a problem and tackle it piece by piece to fix it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible anymore, because being physically in one room together wasn’t allowed. It took too long to do this the same way as before, so something had to change.
In order for Claire to share this with me, she had to be courageous. I often miss that courage in other leaders. What I mean by courage is first, to allow yourself to show your vulnerabilities to others. This allows other people to relate to you, which improves communication and relationships with each other. Secondly, I think Claire is courageous because she asked for help. This is something I struggled with a lot in the beginning, since most people (myself included) can think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But this is not the case!

How the Qileader Program distinguishes itself from other programs?

At P&G, I had received a lot of training programs and this is the same for Claire. But why did she decide to follow our program and in what way was it different than the courses at Procter & Gamble? 

1. Training over a longer period

The Qileader Program offers training over an extended time period. This is very different from classroom training that takes a day or two. Why? It allowed Claire and her team to implement the things they learned throughout the course. As I have told many times before, changing a habit, or creating one, takes time.

2. Online platform

The Qileader course can be taken 100% online. Different people are productive in different moments of the day. I think the pandemic has taught us that the nine to five culture isn’t always the best thing to apply. Having an online platform allowed Claire and her team to do the modules on their own time when they felt like it. That way, everyone could take their own time to increase their energy and coming back to the course when they thought was fit.

What were the outcomes of the program?

One of the benefits of the course is that everyone can take the part that they need the most. For Claire, it was allowing herself to step back and pause to increase her energy. It allowed her to take back control of her life and take care of herself. For a lot of her colleagues, it was the same thing they needed. That’s when they decided to implement a couple of things in order to pause. They now have a no-email zone after 7 pm. This allows everyone to take time for themselves in the evening to increase their energy to have more impact! Another thing they implemented, is two no meeting zones: one on Monday morning and one on Friday afternoon. It allows everyone to prepare the week and then, later on, evaluate it.

When Claire was faced with a crisis, she had to make a decision. Either she was going to ignore the bad feelings inside of her and push through, or she had to look inside of her to tackle the problems. If she had ignored the uncomfortable feeling inside of her and locked it away, she might have quit or burnout. I guess the conclusion for most crises is the same as the one Claire made: you have to look inside of you and face these uncomfortable feelings to come on top of them. That is exactly what she and her teams are doing through the Qileader course.

What about you?

If you recognize you or your team are in the place Claire and her team where, you must realize you are faced with the same choice: face the uncomfortable issues or try to push through, with all the consequences. Should you be interested in following that program for you as a leader, for your team, for your whole organization, be sure to contact me. The goal of this program is to increase your impact in these uncertain, digital and fast times. Meaning knowing what you want and reaching it, increasing your balance and energy, but also increasing your sense of purpose and meaning.  

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