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Leading a virtual team: A ‘new’ normal day as CEO

Ever since the phrase “new normal” became part of our vocabulary, I’ve struggled to figure out what it means. Over the past year, it’s become clear that when in comes to Learning Technology, COVID-19 has created many opportunities.

So whilst it’s not all bad news, it’s certainly not normal. Not today at least.

Before I started my working day today, I was on the phone arranging volunteer responders to pick up medication for my parents, who are shielding again as clinically vulnerable in this pandemic. Luckily for my family, everyone is (still) safe and sound and after a couple of phone calls yesterday and today, we are fortunate indeed to have the necessary support in place, thanks to the tireless efforts of the volunteers in their local area.

That dealt with, I headed to my desk and my inbox. I open the first email, which turned out to be a message informing me that a long-standing Member of ALT and colleague passed away a few weeks go.

Lesley Diack was one of the first Members of ALT I started working with in 2008 alongside Haydn Blackey, and a presence at many of our events and conferences, committee meetings and more of the years.

I am so saddened and shocked to hear of Lesley’s death and judging by the messages in my inbox and on social media, many more colleagues and friends feel the same. I DM all my colleagues and invite everyone to join me for tea if they feel like it, some do, others step away to take a break and digest the news.

It’s part of my role to notify everyone, from Trustees and fellow Members to staff, of news such as this, and so I sat at my desk and started writing emails, planning for cover for the role of Editor in Chief, which Lesley held until her passing, and considering what other steps we need to take, how to send ALT#s condolences and my personal wishes to her family.

During the one to one catch ups I have with staff every Tuesday, we discussed a forthcoming conference (fully online of course), regular CPD and support webinars (to continue our crisis support), making resources available and signposting them openly and touch base on support ALT provides for individuals, such as flexible working hours, during this time of working from home during schooling from home and so forth.

Very productive, all things considered, but coloured in every way by the current situation, this ‘new’ normal.

The sad news we received today reminds me to make the most of every day and to contribute positively to a community I am glad to be part of. It also reminds me not to accept this ‘new’ as normal.

RIP Lesley Diack – you will be much missed in the #altc community.