For the past year-and-a-half, Allison Alley has led Compassion Canada as its president and CEO. But when she took the job, there was no way she could anticipate what 2020 had in store for the world. Compassion Canada’s mission to end poverty for children is challenging in its own right, but the COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of complexity to an already demanding task.
“Through the COVID reality specifically, we’re dealing with all kinds of secondary impacts: hunger, disease and hygiene needs,” Allison told Leading With Nice. “Overnight, the numbers of people that we care for changed from two-million kids to about six-million people now that we’re caring for entire families.”
As difficult as the last year has been, Allison was able to reflect on her year in leadership in the blog post “12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months.” The pandemic and subsequent isolation played a big part in the discovery of some of her most critical work: building and upholding rhythms and relationships that sustain a healthy and a whole life — and how that directly impacts her role as a leader.
“In my context … it’s been caring for my physical well-being, taking rest and replenishment and sleep and recreation seriously, more seriously than I ever have in my life,” Allison says. “Thinking about my socio-emotional needs and learning how to deal with stress and emotions in healthy and productive ways. Rhythms to care for my mental health cognitively was a huge and actually quite surprising one this year.
“What are the most essential, critical things that you need to prioritize so you are well and you are whole? And then that spills over. It gives you energy and focus and stamina and clarity and connection to be able to really lead effectively.”
Check out the podcast below to hear more about the challenges Allison has faced and — in her words — how they’ve been a constant reminder of the need to keep learning and growing as a leader.