Leadership learnings during lockdown

John Croll
By John Croll | 3 September 2021
John Croll

John Croll, Co-Founder & CEO, Truescope,

We’re ten weeks into our longest lockdown to date here in Sydney, and two and a half years since we launched Truescope.

I’m at home with some of my family and grateful to have work to focus on – HQ in Sydney, development in Wollongong and operations in Singapore and New Zealand, and looking to expand into new markets. So workwise, I’m stimulated and busy.

I won’t lie, a few weeks ago, when we weren’t limited to the 5km restrictions, I took a drive into the city just to see what it looks like and also to feel like I was travelling. I’ve also recently admitted to sitting in a reclining chair and listening to aeroplane music, much to my colleagues’ amusement. It’s certainly true that I miss travel and my pre-pandemic freedoms.

When I left my 20+ year CEO role a few years ago, it was evident to anyone that knew me well that I wouldn’t sit still for long.

I’ve relished the new challenges that launching and growing Truescope provided to me, but I could never have predicted the challenges that my pandemic baby business would bring.

Here are some revelations that have come to me over the last couple of years.

Although physically remote, connections are no less real

It’s been an interesting shift during the pandemic. Video conferencing was a big part of corporate life pre-pandemic, but the shift in the tone of these conferences has been interesting. A few mornings ago, I was on a founders networking call during my allotted hour of exercise. At the end we shared our locations, and we were nearly all by a river, harbour or ocean. It was less corporate, more casual, less ego involved, and really enjoyable. Our Truescope team catch-ups have also changed. We talk about stuff outside of work, first, almost like the water cooler discussion you’d have in the office, and then we talk about the business. I have always been pretty time driven for meetings but I recognise that this connection is important. It’s extremely relaxed and it provides valuable insight into what’s going on.

Our employees are awesome
Truescope has HQ and development headquarters in Australia, and operations in NZ and SNG. We’ve always had a flexible work policy but of course the lockdowns have given this a whole new meaning. Plenty of the team are parents, home-schooling little kids, they can’t get home to visit families overseas, and are collectively suffering from all the other issues that lockdowns bring. As a tech business with fortnightly releases, there are particular times when the team is required to be “on-deck” but otherwise the team gets things done when it works best for them. They’re still so committed to the business and the results are still being delivered, which makes me really proud and incredibly grateful to have them as part of the team.

Purpose has never been more important
Early on we were very clear about having a purpose-led business and I firmly believe that in doing so we’ve built a culture at Truescope that everything the team does is aligned to that overall purpose, and it matters and they are valued. I believe our people are emotionally attached to what they’re doing and the people they work with, and this has never been more important when working remotely and across regions, in such difficult times. For the development team in Australia, it has been about owning the solution, not just cutting code. If you bring the solution then you own a part of the app. For the sales and client success teams, it has been about understanding the challenges of a communications professional and delivering an app that helps them make better decisions.

It’s not all about the conquest
Do we want to build the best CommsTech app in the world? You bet we do. But at the end of the day, how we get there is equally as important and we’re committed to remaining a dickhead-free environment, despite how we’re all being tested. We need to continue to be flexible, to adapt and adapt again to make the business work, and to keep our people inspired.

My advice for now? Stay connected. Keep engaged and talk often, not only to our colleagues Monday to Friday, but our entire networks of peers, friends and family.

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