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 gonna 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.

Have you ever noticed how time has a particular duality? When it comes to the current corona chaos, it seems like an eternity ago that we were doing normal things. And on the other hand, it seems like just yesterday that we were doing those normal things.

We have had some interesting interactions with our clients and our leaders over the last 15 or 16 weeks, and I decided to use this episode to collate a midterm report. And I use that term very, very loosely to give you some sort of sense as to what leaders are experiencing in our markets globally and see if it tallies with yours or if it gives you some sort of comfort or insight.

We’ve consistently, throughout this chaos, stayed connected to our clients, mostly through the webinar process. And as part of that webinar process, we have ongoing polls to poll the experience of leaders as this whole situation has evolved. And we have seen from this some interesting trends emerging. One of the impacts of the shock of the crisis in the first instance was that it drove us all into isolation, into seclusion, and, by definition, made us inward-looking.

So, this is an opportunity to begin to look outward as things are unlocking somewhat. The first insight is that 95% of all leaders experience that their organization has suffered. No big surprise there. An addendum to that is that 95% of all leaders at this point believe that there is still more suffering to come.

The nuance between these two percentages, which on the surface appear the same when we dig one level underneath, is that The majority of leaders believe that the pain that is still yet to come is going to be worse by some significant way than what we’ve already endured. This may have something to do with being selective about our memory of the past and being more fearful of the future, but perception is reality and that, according to our polls, is the current perception.

The conclusion, obviously, is that we’re nowhere near over this. The second insight comes from the questions around how well leadership is happening. 95% of leaders said that they believed that they were leading their people well. The same leaders when they were asked the question about how they were being led; however, only 65% of people said that they were being well led by their leaders.

Here, we have a very interesting 30% differential. And this 30% differential represents the intention impact gap. None of us intend to be poor leaders or to not do right by our people or our business. However, we judge ourselves by those good intentions, but that’s not how we’re going to be judged.

We talked about reputation in the very, very first episode, and reputation is based purely and only on one thing, fair or unfair as it is. It’s the impact on how people judge us, and that 30% differential is the gap that leaders need to work on in order for their reputations to get the gold medal.

One interesting insight from the polling is the greatest doubt that most leaders have around their leadership is in answer to the question; people are asking for what they really need. And what people are running into as leaders is it’s very difficult to get past the diplomatic answer, the monosyllabic answer, or the Irish bravado diversion tactic of sure it’ll be grand. This is something that we’ll come back to in a later episode.

On a positive note, 85 % of those surveyed believe that there are positives that people are able to take from this crisis that will enable them to be better in the future. And in concert with that, 85 % of leaders believe that, on reflection, the old world wasn’t all good.

The one outstanding question is to take the insights and translate them into something which is meaningful and purposeful and will begin to inform what the new world looks like and the new business proposition and the new ways of working. As the old CFAX used to say, more to follow.

The final statistic, which is probably the most challenging, is there is almost an exact 50-50 split between those who cannot wait to get back into the office and get out of the lockdown and the shackles versus those who, if they never went back to the office again, would be only too delighted.

What I think we’re seeing here is the emergence of a new age, white-collar civil war. It’s certainly going to lead to and is already leading to some very difficult conversations. Conversations around the return to work and what that’s going to look like, conversations about taking holidays, not taking holidays, conversations about distribution of work in the new world order, conversations perhaps about reduction in time, reduction in hours, or even having to let people go entirely.

Which is why the next part of our series is going to be focused on that exact topic, which is having difficult conversations and conversations in chaos.

As a final footnote, I can remember at the start of this whole breakdown and lockdown and the beginning of the podcast, when I chose the title Leadership in Chaos, one or two people questioned and said, well, surely it’s a bad title because when the chaos is over, it becomes redundant.

It reminds me of the classic old Bob Monkhouse joke when he said, people told me I’d never make it as a comedian. Well, nobody’s laughing now.

Until we get to the next time, stay safe, stay sane, stay connected.

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