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 previous episodes, we’ve concentrated on the need to become as a leader, to help to shape the story in your communication for others, and also to stay as connected as we can to our people and to our clients. This week, we’re going to focus on a critical ingredient of leadership: the need to be clear, crisp and decisive in our communication. To do this, I’m going to share an extract from a live webinar that I was involved in this week. I hope it’s going to be useful to you. Enjoy.

This whole idea of being clear on clarity. People out there are drowning. They’re drowning in uncertainty, uncertainty from an epidemic, but also an infodemic.

And they’re absolutely overloaded. And when people are drowning, they reach out for whatever they can find. And you are their primary life jacket or at least primary driftwood. You have got their full attention and when you’ve got their full attention and they’re limbically triggered, the first thing you need to be is you need to be decisive.

You need to make decisions, make decisions, make the call, take action and do it quickly. Because that’s what people expect, they don’t want to be hanging on. It’s only prolonging the pain, even if it’s unpopular or whatever the decision is, or even if in the fullness of time it proves incorrect. Your communication needs to be clear.

It needs to be simple, and it needs to be unambiguous. Wash your hands. What does that mean? Well, you wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and for 20 seconds. What does that mean? It means that in the time it takes you to sing two happy birthdays, that’s as long as you need to be washing your hands.

That’s how clear and simple we need to make it. We also need to describe not just what we know to people, as early and as quickly and as frequently as we can, but also what we don’t know. We don’t know how long this is going to last. We don’t know what the restructure is going to look like. We don’t know if we can continue to pay you.

We don’t know if you’re going to be going on short time or if you’re going to be working remotely. And also, it’s important that you tell people what you expect and what you don’t expect. Particularly in the new world order, this new remote working, this new virtual working technology, this is confusing for people because it’s new.

Explaining what the expectation is is one of the leadership roles. What does it mean to work from home? What do you expect? Do you expect people to be on the calls at nine o’clock in the morning? What are the work hours? What flexibility do they have? Do they have to dress for work even when they are at home? In whatever way they do. Because this clarity and crispness, and simplicity is needed when people are limbically challenged, their horizons are very, very short, and their focus is very, very narrow.

So crisp, simple, actionable messaging is critical. No over-elaboration. The final thing which is critical in this instance is honesty. People expect and want you to be honest, even if it’s bad news, even if it’s unpopular.  People who struggle with this are typically people who are very caring for their people.

This whole idea is that we have a tendency, people who are more democratic in their style, to want to sugarcoat things, to try to shield people from pain. This is not the time to do this. This limbic system here, this is far older than this system here. This is about one and a half to 2 million years old.

This is 150 million years old. It knows. It knows in ways that intellect doesn’t know. So, for example, it has got a very high bullshit detector. It is trolling to find out if you can be trusted. If you are friend or foe, it’s binary. And if what you’re saying is not grounded in some reality, people realize the realities, so they don’t buy the bullshit.

You have examples of this in America, where you’ve got a president who’s saying it’s all under control. We’ll be out by Easter. And then, on the other side, you’ve got a governor who’s saying it’s not just bad news today, it’s terrible news from a leadership perspective. One of those is going to emerge with a far more intact reputation than the other.

You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. So we need to be direct and, crisp, and clear. And when the building’s on fire, people don’t need you canvassing opinions on how they feel about heat.

So I really hope that 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 F L O W 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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