It feels like Covid was sent to shake up our listening.
A time to slow down and shine a light internally. To spend more time with our families and connect with what’s important in our lives. To bring clarity and focus on what matters in our business. To give the earth time to breathe.
This morning I tuned into a webinar where Dr Adam Fraser spoke about a pre-Covid ‘lack of leadership alignment’.
Which got me thinking about times where we’re all about integrity BUT prioritized bonus structures. Where we’re all about diversity and inclusion BUT sanctioned a 90% male leadership bench. Where we ‘re all about employee life balance BUT happy to send work emails throughout the weekend. Where we supported the environment BUT happy to fly to every business meeting across the globe!
No-one can quite articulate it, but something feels different now and we’re only just beginning to see the destruction following the receding waters of Covid.
Apparently, there was a massive lift towards more aligned, empathic, purpose-driven and compassionate leadership post 9/11, yet within 6 months, life returned to ‘normal’.
What can leaders learn from Covid to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again? The sheer scale of this change experience is unprecedented in our lifetime and makes it spectacularly difficult to navigate.
It also makes it a vital leadership lesson, and an opportune time to LISTEN.
VUCA doesn’t seem to quite capture this Covid experience – perhaps a better description might be CHAOS:
C: Complex (complicated)
H: Herculean (requiring great effort & calling for courage)
A: Abstruse (difficult to understand)
O: Out of our usual experience (definitely!!!)
S: Shambolic (disorganized)
As you read this, you may be thinking – this is a tough time to lead – how can I LISTEN differently and what difference would that make?
I have a few ideas to share with you.
- Look out for reduced office floorspace into the future, and greater flexibility with only part of our team in the office at any one time. Sounds great – but for many who love the banter, mateship, coffee and lunch catch ups, it’s going to be a lonely alternative
- LISTEN out for what your people are asking for. Pay attention to who to bring into the office, how and when. Flexibility works when we plan for it and it’s not random rostering
- Expect a tsunami of loneliness. When you ask people how they’re doing at the moment, many will say they’re tired. What they’re really trying to say is that they’re lonely
- LISTEN to how your people are feeling. Leaders who feel comfortable to vulnerably check in with others and attend to their anxieties and fears will be the ones who create thriving cultures through this time. Brené Brown’s podcast speaks to this powerfully: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/dr-vivek-murthy-and-brene-on-loneliness-and-connection/
- Dr Adam Fraser’s research has shown that people don’t lack resilience. What they do lack is recovery
- LISTEN for different ways to support people – ask for daily ‘in the moment’ feedback about ways to support self-care (physical, emotional and mental recovery)
- There are lessons that need to be learned. People are reassessing how they want to live their lives
- LISTEN for new ways to connect and collaborate; LISTEN for the cues as to how loyalty is going to be impacted. LISTEN for what you can now let go of
- Change is terrifying for many people, especially on this scale
- LISTEN for opportunities to normalise change and grow people’s Change Readiness (their relationship with uncertainty and risk). If you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking of ways to grow Change Readiness across your business.
As we all strive to LISTEN better through coming weeks, let’s remember the wise words of Winston Churchill:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. One always measures friendships by how they show up in bad weather. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”