At the start of 2021, the Aileron team held a “Celebrating Shifts” kick-off meeting to celebrate the ways we adapted to unprecedented uncertainty and change in 2020. Here are four of the lessons we learned.

#1 Shifting to Virtual Doesn’t have to Jepoardize Connectedness – It Can Empower It

In a year where most of our team moved to working from home, many of our team members say they feel more connected than ever. Since we couldn’t get together in person, we had to find new and different ways to connect with each other. We experimented with using different tools – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and good old-fashioned snail mail – to continue to feel close to each other despite the distance.

When it was safe to gather outdoors, we were able to get together for our Aileron team retreat. We commemorated our ability to navigate 2020 and stay connected by building a gazebo on campus in just two days. Our team hammered every nail, drilled every screw, laid every board. The experience reminded us of the power of a group of people who share the same vision and provided the Aileron community with a new outdoor space to gather.

#2 Healthy Conflict Can Bring People Together

In 2020 we enhanced our culture by leaning into healthy conflict. During times when we could have shied away from hard conversations, but we leaned into them knowing that these conversations would ultimately allow us to understand each other better, gain respect for one another, and learn something from each other.

At Aileron, we’ve learned to employ our Conscious Leadership skills by staying curious, listening, asking empowering questions, and allowing others to speak rather than shutting conflict down. If you’re interested in developing your communication skills to approach hard conversations with a productive mindset, click here to learn more about Leading Powerful Conversations.

#3 Shifting from “Try Everything” to “Pause And Plan” It’s Okay to Say No

Aileron’s Client Engagement and Learning Engagement teams work very hard to ensure that the services we provide are reflective of what our community needs. These teams are constantly innovating and trying to develop new services, which means our organization is often swarming with big ideas. But 2020 was a year when we needed to focus and practice intentionality more than ever. This required more saying “not right now” – something that can be hard for our curious group – so we could focus on the few critical and impactful initiatives that would most support our community.

#4 Transparency Powers Trust

One of Aileron’s greatest values is transparency. We value being honest and authentic, and sharing information. To support this value during 2020, our Finance team built a financial forecasting system to share timely financials with the organization and give the team an idea of Aileron’s financial health – even when it was difficult to talk about. The system increased trust and confidence throughout the team so much that we’ve made it part of our ongoing process.