I get my best ideas from listening to people. Fortunately, that’s my job.
I like to say that people are my library, and my daily writing practice is a way to discover what’s in it: new ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little whimsy for good measure. As your humble librarian I invite you to check out a new idea every day. No late fees ever.
Remember the Brady Bunch? Zoom’s “Gallery View” looks like this.
I’ve been remote working for many years, but this week feels different, the day after the UK was told to stay home. I was on Zoom calls for much of yesterday, including a standing (for about two years now) weekly “circle call” with a group who bonded in person at a workshop and now meet online across multiple countries each week.
As we all get used to remote working, let us make time to use Zoom (or other video platforms) to meet with people online just as you would in person. Yes, some will be “remote working” meeings, but also make time to simply spend time with people in social settings.
Socially (with colleagues as well as family and friends), we can do coffee meetings, water cooler chats, happy hours, even dinners online in a “Zoom Room”.
On a personal level, yesterday I had my first daily Zoom call with my three sons, who are now isolated 5,000 miles from me in the Cayman Islands for the foreseeable future. I was due to see all of them several times in the next few months. None of that will happen now and it feels hard.
A daily “Brady Bunch” call will really matter for us.
As we begin to adapt to the new normal of restricted movement and of uncertainty over what is next, we will all have more questions than answers.
At this time, more than ever, it is vital to have someone to talk to.
I’m therefore opening up my calendar to do what I can for business leaders who want to sound out their thoughts.
I don’t profess to have any answers, my primary focus is to be there to listen.
That said, I do have decades of business experience including going through crisis leadership situations and both scenario planning and preparation as well as reacting and responding to rapidly changing circumstances.
Within days the practical reality for many will be that we will be spending a lot of time in our homes, limiting movement and, for the sake of all our community locally and globally, respecting the phrase we have come to learn, “social distancing”.
My one thought for today is to pick up the phone.
Call those close to you, your family and friends, also business contacts to share and learn from each other as to how to act to support those you lead.
As I posted more than once last week, listening is core to my professional life, so I’m here to talk too, offering my time to support the community.
A sage friend shared this question with me as one he uses for his mentees when they run into tough times or a crisis. A question like this can really flip the thinking and energy! So, as regards your own Crisis Leadership around Covid-19:
Tell me, what good may come from this?
Now, earlier this week I had a wonderful “walk and talk” with Ian Sanders. Ian has written multiple books and I’m excited to see what is next for him.
He also drew out of me the idea to create a book from the nearly 900 posts I’ve written daily (so far) on this site. Each post can represent one to three page short chapters in the book, making it easy to read and dip in and out of for leaders. My core theme is #OpenLeadership, then there will be areas under recurring themes, such as my main “cogitation” these days, on Bravery. I’m feeling inspired!
Now, where did come from? From the recognition as Ian and I spoke that in the next few months we may all be spending a lot of time working remotely ever more than usual. So, one good thing that may come from the Covid-19 situation for me may be writing a book!
This week I have been actively and instinctively offering my support in an area I feel I can help, see the post: “Who do you call before making a tough decision?“. Beyond that, I’ve also been posting on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as more specifically emailing people in my home of the Cayman Islands.
A couple of days after starting to proactively offer my time and energy to this, I had a coffee with a friend and sage mentor. He felt that the email I sent out to leaders in Cayman was a bit pushy, but he then read to the end of the long email and, when he read the final paragraph, said “now THIS is you, it is all about your intention to be of service!”. So, I re-sent the email, this time putting that paragraph at the top so as to clearly communicate that my energy towards this was “leading from intention”, the intention being to serve the community through offering my skills.
Perhaps to some this may have landed as “pushy”, yet I have continued to offer this support and quite a number of people have taken me up on the opportunity to talk to me as a Sounding Board.
To close, just over a week ago I wrote: “Bravery: We had to do it“, anchoring on the power of Purpose, of Intent, when a leader make a decision.
Linking the two themes together, in that post I anchored on a favourite movie, simply noting that when you are leading from intent (ie a clear sense of purpose aimed at being of service), you can “Say Anything“.
In recent days I’ve focussed my daily posts on Crisis Leadership, including the longer post: “Act Now“.
Today’s message is for leaders to communicate a simple and clear message.
There is endless commentary on every aspect of Coronavirus Covid-19, but Max Roser has brilliantly captured what we all need to do in one simple graphic. I sens that we, individually and as a globally-interconnected human race, need to act now, while it is still relatively early, to slow down the rate of infection and #FlattenTheCurve.
On a broader level, “a picture says a thousand words”. Sometimes consider making your simple and clear message with an image.
“I hereby give you permission to pause – for whatever reason, whenever you feel like it, as often as you like.” ~ Rob Poynton
This week my focus has been on crisis leadership around Covid-19 response, focussing on leadership behaviours. Yesterday’s post: “Who do you call before making a tough decision?” contained my instinctive offer to give space to leaders to sound out their thinking with me before making the often tough decisions needed at this time.
For leaders needing to make a decision at this or any other time, consider taking a pause before deciding. In that pause, again I encourage you to speak with someone independent who you can sound out your thoughts with and who comes with one sole agenda, to support you.
At this moment it seems every leader is facing uncertainty but also know they need to be decisive about responding to the Covid-19 situation.
Many leaders don’t really have someone external and objective who will listen deeply as they consider their options.
Instinctively, and driven by my desire to help in the way I best can, as I’m a professional sounding board, I am offering my time to take calls from business leaders in that capacity to be of service to the broader community at this time where we all are looking to how we can help others.
I’ve prioritised creating free space in my diary in the next two weeks (for now), simply book your call.
At the time of writing, Covid-19 is escalating and the impact is growing on humans and business around the world, as I wrote in my last two posts: “Act Now” and “Crisis leadership – This too shall pass“. Counter-intuitive though it may seem for some, I encourage business leaders to invest now in leadership.
Right now economic activity is down and will stay down for some time, so where you have a healthy Balance Sheet, “zig” while others “zag”, invest in leadership, in the core qualities not only at times of crisis but into the future.
I begin today’s thoughts around this by noting that on my #BeMoreYou page, I list four core qualities of #OpenLeadership as being: Brave, Hungry, Open, Humble.
I’ll follow on now by talking about VUCA 2.0, or how to lead in our VUCA world.
As I write this, Covid-19 is spreading rapidly around the world, with nervousness building with a growing number of people.
Yesterday I wrote: “Act Now” to give thoughts for leaders on how to act and also how to behave in a crisis. Today I am reminded of a post sharing an old fable. The title gives away the punchline, yet please read it still, the story anchors the point, that: “this too shall pass“.
How adaptable are you as a leader to change? As the world faces the impact of Coronavirus, the executive summary of this article is simple: Act Now
Let us talk, then, about three things:
What is a Black Swan event?
To what level can we predict such events?
What can we do in business to respond, and specifically now we face this (Coronavirus) “Black Swan”?
To open, Sequoia Capital this week wrote a piece that I believe every business leader will benefit from reading. I share here a snippet (bold highlights my own), then go on to discuss the points above in-depth:
Having weathered every business downturn for nearly fifty years, we’ve learned an important lesson — nobody ever regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances. In downturns, revenue and cash levels always fall faster than expenses. In some ways, business mirrors biology. As Darwin surmised, those who survive “are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.”
Today sharing a recent newsletter from a thinker I admire, Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself, as it flows with the current theme here on #Bravery and, in particular around what some may perceive as brave but where the person taking the action doesn’t sense it as bravery.
In her piece, Whitney poses the question:
How do you discern if something is a good or bad decision, and distinguish between fear of the unknown and a legitimate ‘this is a bad idea’ feeling?
I love the movie Inception, and one of the key scenes asks a character to take a leap of faith. In that story, the only way to escape the situation is to go beyond rationality and truly take a leap of faith.
However, we live in the real world, not the movies, so we operate from a combination of that leap of faith of what feels right, allied to rationality and having certain core foundational elements in place prior to taking the leap.
We all are at different places on the spectrum of bravery. With that, we all need certain things in place before we take a leap.
I often support leaders with a key career change for them. Some will take the leap with little or no safety net, others will take years to plan their leap before taking it, having a large financial cushion in place, planning their next move before they quit, or otherwise having prepared so they can make the leap take less faith.
What needs to happen for you before you take a leap of faith?
“when you feel you are bored to death of repeating your message…….you are probably halfway there”.
I am therefore unapologetic at once again repeating my reference to putting Purpose first in the triple bottom line.
Linked to this, I therefore often highlight companies that are following this path. Today a simple reference to yet another such company who are showing that by doing the right thing, by putting purpose first, they can in fact make more profit, and not as it is their primary driver but as it is an outcome of doing the right thing.
Yesterday I wrote a short post on the bravery of entrepreneurs, highlighted by the oft-repeated phrase entrepreneurs give when asked why they started their business: “I couldn’t not do it“.
This came from a focus on when an action is perceived by others as brave, but does not feel brave or courageous at all by the person taking that action.
In the case of entrepreneurs, the compulsion is normally centred around seeing a gap in the market and opportunity to fill that gap and potential to profit commercially from that.
Now, seeing a gap in the market can indeed be a powerful driver or compulsion to act and maintain strength and momentum to carry through an idea into a thriving entrepreneurial business.
However, to truly build a powerful and lasting business that has a sustainable impact for both the owners and team in the business as well as the broader community and world, a more powerful compulsion to act is always in play. This more powerful compulsion is often expressed on reflecting back to the beginnings of the business as something like: “we had to do it”.