Hi, I’m Ian McClean. I’m the founder of Flow Group and GreenLine Conversations. And this podcast has grown out of the chaos that’s been thrust upon us. During the podcast, I’m going to try and share with you the best of 25 years of helping corporate organizations deal and cope with change. So, as you’re out there, busy making sense of it all, trying to cope, and maybe, in some cases, trying to rebuild your organizations, I’m hoping that some of this can be of some assistance.

We’ll keep it deliberately short, because I know you’re busy. Let’s dive in. It’s a sign of the times that I’m recording this first episode of Leadership in Chaos. Whilst in self-isolation. So, if the sound quality isn’t marvellous at all times, please forgive me. This crisis really has taken us all unawares.

And it was Warren Buffett during the financial crisis who said, it’s only when the tide goes out you see who’s really swimming in the nude. And actually, this is really the leadership moment. This is going to be the time when your metal is tested to the full. There’s a lot of talk about the Olympics. And if we go back to the last Olympics in 2016, one of the features of the Rio Olympics is that there were more personal bests recorded than at any other time, any other previous Olympics.

But alongside that, and even more so, there was a higher volume of personal worsts recorded at the same Olympics. This is like the leadership Olympics. And the only difference between this Olympics and the Rio Olympics. Is that at least the athletes had four years to prepare for real. People are going to have to turn up, and they’re going to have to be at their best when times are at their worst.

And that’s essentially what this podcast is designed to do. Because in 25 years of helping leaders and corporate organizations to lead and manage their way through change in all forms of change, you’ve got chaos. Normally it’s with a small C. This one, this has got a capital C and the only time that we’ve ever encountered anything like this before, but there are parallels was during the financial crisis.

And one of the things that I see that I’ll be sharing with you. is already parallels between how people responded and how people reacted during the 2008, 2009 crash. And what I already see emerging in the current climate. One of the things that we’ve already seen around us that some leaders are rising to the occasion, even our political leaders, economic leaders, some people are emerging and they’re really shining and they’re the ones who are going to get gold and others, well, they’re flunking the test.

So the question is, how are you going to perform during this time when your people are most in their hour of need? There are going to be casualties in this whole situation, but your leadership and your leadership reputation doesn’t need to be one of them. Before we start off, one thing to reassure you is a comment that I came across from the war correspondent Laura Marlowe recently.

She made the observation that the one thing that she’s learned about war is that it always ends. And this is exactly the same. This is a period in time, it’s a period in your life, all be at a critical one, but it’s going to end. And before we start off with the podcast and share with you some of the things that we hope are going to be of help, the one thing that I’m going to ask you is a question.

And the question is this, when this is all over and it has ended and you’re reflecting back on everything that happened between now and then, how do you want your people to be speaking about how you showed up during the crisis? Because that is what is going to determine your leadership reputation.

Consider this. We all walk through life operating on the basis of our good intentions because that’s how we judge ourselves. But other people don’t judge us by our good intentions. Other people judge us by our impact. How you impact your people, not how you intend to perform and behave during the next weeks and months, is going to determine how people judge you.

So, let’s talk about your people to start with. What sort of situation are they in? Well, they’re now facing a situation where their worst three fears are being realized. The fear of mortality or extinction, the fear of separation, and the fear of losing control. These are three basic human fears, and all three have got their boxes ticked in this environment.

So what that does is it creates fear and anxiety, and what that does is it appeals to our survival brain and turns our survival brain into action far more frequently. One of the things about leadership is that leaders typically underestimate the level of impact and influence that they have on their people.

And I’m talking about here in peacetime, in wartime, if people are already paying you attention in peacetime, in wartime, they are absolutely trained on you and the spotlight is focused on everything you do, everything you say, and everything you don’t do. It becomes amplified. The one thing that people don’t want in a situation where they have high anxiety is nobody needs a nervous pilot.

The thing you most need to bring to the table is calm. In this ocean of uncertainty, that surrounds and is engulfing your people. The one thing that they need is an anchor, and you are it. How to become the anchor, how to remain calm, how to make calm, the dominant emotion that is contagious as fear, that’s how, what we’re going to do, and that’s what we’re going to unpack in the remaining episodes.

So, in the meantime, stay safe, stay sane, stay connected.

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