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Leading Self Through the "New Normal"

August 10 2020 - by Nadia Spencer - Henry, Debt Manager, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance - Antigua & Barbuda, and CLP Alumna

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few months, you are very aware that the world has changed. “New Normal” is the latest buzz term and its being applied to every aspect of life on planet earth all because of COVID-19. As a leader in a technical area, sovereign debt management, I am required to use almost all the tools in my toolbox. Two of the main tools I have been relying on are adaptive leadership and 110% listening. I am aware that the landscape of debt management is changing and that I need to develop new capabilities while relying on the fundamentals of my practice. They’re different voices clamoring for my attention and I have to find a way to not only prioritize each voice, but to practice mindfulness through the need for constant action. I must listen to understand what I am being asked to do,and to understand the expectations of my superiors, colleagues and reportees.


So how do I, or how does anyone remain focused when there is so much to do and when all of it is critically important? Sands Leadership suggests that ‘Your self-leadership, your understanding of who you are, what you want and what you are being called to do, creates the firm foundation you need to take action and make decisions with confidence, even (and especially) during periods of great uncertainty.’1 In my endeavour to understand who I am and what I am being called to do I’ve focused on the following:


Thought leadership

How is my practice evolving and how am I contributing to the evolution of my practice? What am I learning that will prepare me for the next global crisis or the next disruption? I accept that the landscape of sovereign debt management has changed for debt managers in large as well as small economies. Transparency and information are of high value because they affect my ability to act now and, in the future. I must learn from my peers in the field and find ways to contribute to this evolving practice by providing thought leadership where possible.



I am learning to communicate my actions to those around me and not to assume that everybody understands what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. When you live in a high context society, it is easy to take for granted that what you say and do is easily understood. I must listen to understand each person’s unique understanding of the situation and to map a path for myself and my practice among all the options. Meetings for me are more impactful. I identify clear action items for myself in order to stay a step ahead even when an action item has not been identified for me.



I am making time for self-development and learning. I can’t assume that I have all the answers. We’ve never had a situation like this in my lifetime and this time may not be the last. There are many opportunities for learning form leaders all around the world during the pandemic. I have taken this time to develop new skills when possible. Finding time for personal development is difficult but it has to be prioritized.


This is not the sum total of all I learned or I’m still learning, but I encourage you as a leader to map this path for yourself and determine how your leadership can be enhanced through this pandemic.