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.

In the previous episode we talked about how necessary it is to help to shape the story for our people in chaos and there are many ways in which we can do that. This episode is focused very much on how we need to be and stay connected to our people, and I thought that this time around, rather than hearing from Uno Voce, I would share with you an extract from the GreenLine Conversations Leadership and Chaos webinar we did for our clients recently, where we talked about this myself and my co-founder of GreenLine Conversations, Blair Steinbach.

In this, you’re going to hear reference to a couple of GreenLine methodologies for leading and coping in chaos, one of which is around the four commitment cards of conversations that allow us to enquire, hear and acknowledge and straight talk. You’ll also hear reference to the red brain, which is another word for the limbic brain or the limbic system, which often is activated when people are in states of high anxiety, fear, or uncertainty. Enjoy.

IMC: Our entire work is centered around helping leaders lead through change of some kind. So for 20-odd years, we’ve  been doing that. And with all change, there comes chaos. It’s normally with a small C that I will admit in this instance here, the chaos has got a capital C, but even in normal times, the most common reaction when we’re working with organizations that are going through change and there are elements of uncertainty and chaos, is we do focus groups and we get the same message everywhere we go.

Our leaders at the time we most need them don’t seem to be available and don’t seem to be present. They are nowhere to be found. This is a really common refrain. Having leaders that are visible and accessible and staying connected with your people in this time is even more acute and even more critical.

BS: Again, going back to the green line training, remember the example of the four commitment cards. One of the big principles is more than ever: Their emotional cup is gonna get filled to capacity.

And when they’re filled at capacity, when they’re filled with their own concerns and not just work concerns, the stuff that they’re experiencing, like you are at home, where you’re managing multiple levels of complexity, now the cup gets full and then important information comes, or a reaction. You know, you need to get in touch with someone and get them to respond to you, or the idea that we need to reach out and connect with them, not just about business issues.

But if we can connect with them and give them space to empty their cup and more frequently, the more we frequently we empty their cup, the more capacity they have for us to do our straight talking and put in the things that we need to put in.

The second thing is, we need to acknowledge their snaps. The red brain is really about surviving, and it’s about implication. People aren’t afraid of change. They’re afraid of the implications of change. And if you don’t know what the implication is on their side, what they’re experiencing, and many of them are common, but some of them are unique to them, that’s going to be difficult to connect with.

But if you do connect with that, that’s when trust starts to go up. That’s when, in a 5 per cent moment, they’re granting you a little more grace. They’re saying, okay, you see me, you get me. And it looks like, by the polls, many of you are doing a good thing there.

Another thing in this idea of connecting is tapping in for what’s right.

Remember the builders and architects. You know, we tap in when there are problems or when we need to communicate. But, when you see them doing something well, even if it’s the smallest thing, this is becoming more important than ever. The reaching out of, you know, thanks for getting that in on time, or thanks for being accessible and available, or that thing you did an hour ago, you know, thank you, that was above and beyond.

You know, that’s exactly what the team needs. As we’re going through this, these little tap ins for what’s right help stay, create the connection that’s necessary. And then the last comment that I would make is checking with your snaps, even before you reach out to somebody, you know, somebody asked. So what do you do when you have to give bad news, but you have to do it virtually because you can’t do it in person?

Well, That’s your red brain kind of worrying about that. So check in with your snaps. What’s the real concern here? And you know, if there is a bit of advice, it would be don’t do it by email. It’s much better, particularly with bad news, to do it where you can connect. So use the virtual reality systems that we have, like we’re doing now, where you can see faces. You can hear the pause. You can give them a space to respond. You can hold space with them as you wait patiently as they react, and, using your Enquiry card, draw them back in.

If connection is to be, you know, be connected, use the tools that help us be connected. And particularly when it’s the toughest, that’s when we need to be connected.

IMC: One thing I’ll add to that, Blair, and it’s a specific example. Is when we’re in a hijacked state ourselves and we’re under pressure ourselves and trying to deal with it, is the likelihood is that we might adopt a one size fits all approach to our people. One of the things that I discovered back in 2009 is that whenever we were going through a crisis, like everybody else at the time in the financial meltdown, we did a record year in 2008 after 10 years of business. And in 2009, we suffered a 57 percent drop in gross revenue year on year, that obviously had all the implications that you can imagine.

What was interesting to me as a leader in trying to manage this is the different implications that people felt in our consulting group. We had one individual who had a high need for certainty and the biggest implication for this individual was they needed to be connected with on such a regular basis.

Even if I had nothing to say, even if I had no further answers, just the very fact that I was able to show up and say, you know, we’re still working on it. We’re trying to figure it out. I don’t know how long this is going to go on for, and it was the certainty element. That was the big implication or the uncertainty for her.

I had another individual exactly the same situation, but the implication for this person was this was somebody who derived an awful lot of their status from their ability to connect and relate to other people through the work. And the workplace was where she came together with both ourselves and the rest of her community, but also her clients and when she went down to a two-day week or a one-day week, as the gas was turned down for everybody, the implication was the relatedness need that this person had wasn’t being met and in both cases it had nothing to do with money.

So, people’s implications. The implications for people on the other side to be able to connect with those people and understand what they are is critical and it’s individual. The other reason to stay connected to people is this. This is a really hard time for the type of leader who believes that leadership is about having all the answers.

And in this instance, Nobody can have all the answers. Nobody’s got a monopoly on it. So this is where if you’ve got really good people, which many of you have, I’m sure, staying connected with people to put the problem at the table centrally so that everybody can work on it and you get the perspectives of all the minds. And you get as much data as you can from people who can see what you can’t see because you’re a little bit more remote. If you pardon the pun, even though we’re all remote. But more information and more data is better than less data if you want to move out of this and move forward and keep people in the boat with you along the way.

So, I hope you enjoyed that.

If you are thinking that a webinar might be a good idea or any of our other virtual services for you or your people, just get in touch with us. You can reach me on info at Flow UK and Ireland, which is FLOW UK and ireland.com, or just get in touch with me on LinkedIn and in the meantime, stay safe, stay sane, stay connected.

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