I am grateful to operate as an Interpersonal Catalyst. What that means for me is that my purpose is to catalyse human connection for the betterment of all and I do that both within my corporate role as an international product manager and as part of an extended global network of heart-led leaders.
What this combination affords me is both an inside-out and an outside-in view on both individual and organisational life.
I wanted to share some of the reflections and thinking that I have been involved in and hearing over the past few weeks as we have navigate these current challenges and would love to hear from you what resonates and what you may challenge or add.
The good, the bad and the ugly of leadership
As always during a period of rapid change or crisis, amplified further by the speed of information and technological access of many, we get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of leadership.
Here is my tracking summary so far:
Three key reflections for me here include:
- We initially saw mainly negative stories in the early days of the crisis, but very quickly the stories of humane leadership started to emerge
There is a hashtag on LinkedIn #recognizethegood that was started by WorkHuman in case you wanted to get an updated view A reminder that the media sells fear and worry over connection and heart (unless you are BizCatalyst 360°, great job Dennis)
- We as consumers, individually and collectively, get to decide what ‘good’ leadership looks like post-crisis. How? By being intentional and thoughtful about the organisations where we spend our money. If we vote with our cash, leaders will have to listen and evolve, but we also need to reach those individuals that are scared of this shift so they can too evolve, which is why I love Mike Vacanti’s HumansFirst movement so much, which is mobilising around this work
- If you are prone to ugly behavioural traits, the good news is that you can learn healthier traits. You are innately kind, loving, and generous but may have lost your way to greed, fear, and ego. I did! Be curious, be humble, and most of all, as Bob Chapman CEO of Barry-Wehmiller would say, treat your people as somebody else’s precious child.
Flushing out inequalities in the system
I caught up with my friend Meg Peppin the other day and we reflected on our current challenges and also opportunities she shared a wonderful phrase that I hope she will write more about, which was that the current situation is “flushing inequalities out of the system.”
It is clear and visible for all to see that whilst we are all equally human, resources and opportunity are not equally distributed, however with many countries enacting what is basically emergency universal basic income, pretty much overnight, such a programme of assured income and security, universally and not with means-test, could indeed be one of the major turning points towards rectifying these structural imbalances.
I was grateful to host a conversation with leading UBI expert Scott Santens on Ep 17 of the Value through Vulnerability podcast previously, who ended up being advisor to Andrew Yang before he dropped out of the presidential race.
Creating value through essential roles
Again, whilst talking to Meg, the topic of ‘essential’ work came up. Now essential may mean different things to different people but I think that we would all agree that essential, today, = services and roles that keep society and humanity functioning i.e nurses, doctors, supermarket colleagues, bin collectors, etc.
David Graeber has written in his book Bullshit Jobs about the fact that we have been valuing in money terms, for too long, the wrong jobs.
A provocation for you. If all the lawyers, stockbrokers, and most middle management were suddenly not in role, globally, would the world suffer? This makes me think of a powerful provocation from Hilton Barbour during a recent conversation on the Value through Vulnerability podcast as follows:
I think it world would likely be a better place, assuming something like basic income was in place, which would free up those people to do jobs they love and not chase the money, again as I did!
Serving humanity and the planet to be the best version of itself, in community, is essential to me and my personal purpose, and I believe a variant of that is the same for many of us.
Today my work organsiation supplies raw materials into food, pharmaceutical and other applications, which makes my day job also essential, which is a lens I have not always appreciated in ‘regular’ times.
Speaking with one of my peers that heads OD and people within a leading publishing organisation last week, she shared that they, like many organisations had done a great job of moving everybody to remote working very quickly during the crisis, yet there is a deep-held belief by the owner of the business that as soon as the crisis is finished, everybody needs to be back in the office asap. When I questioned what the belief was behind that thinking she advised that “we have two offices and the CEO does not want to pay for two offices without people in.” For me, what this means that he doesn’t trust his people and needs to see them to believe they are working.
My challenge to senior leaders thinking this way is why not to look to develop and grow your business to fill that space whilst giving your people trust and freedom rather than leading with fear. Such leaders may not even realise that they are leading with fear and that reinforces the importance of raising awareness and developing people-centred leadership.
Mike Vacanti and I discuss this topic at length with leading workplace and remote working strategist Cali Yost this coming week on the Value through Vulnerability podcast. She has also brought out a 6-week webinar series around this topic in case of interest.
Change as business as usual (BAU)
Increasingly as I research my new book Change Is An Inside Job, it is becoming clearer and clearer, as I have experienced, that way too many people are still looking at change as an outside job.
- A process.
- A methodology.
- Something to be ‘done’ other human beings. No wonder it fails so spectacularly, so often.
However, more people are realising that change is an inside job, it takes hearts and mind, not just our heads, reinforced by the fact that we are in the moment human beings.
This crisis has brought that clarity into sharp focus.
Finally, recently coming off my company Q1 2020 global town hall, our CEO shared a wonderful paradox that ‘mother nature has sent us this virus, but she also has given us this beautiful Spring weather.’
To be a humane, connected, thriving leader of self and others going forward we need to balance better our feminine and masculine energies.
This is not about gender; it is about energy and intention.
I really do hope that we all take the opportunity to step into our humanity further as we move through and after this crisis.
There is a huge opportunity to do so, let us not miss it.