I had so many conversations with leaders going through turmoil last week but two stick out.
They were with 2 leaders in reasonably similar situations. Yet one of them had gone into total doomsday mode and as a result ‘paralysis by analysis’. The other was experiencing some stress but was focused on getting to the reality of the situation and then adapting quickly to the new reality.
I’ve spent a lot of the last 3-4 days speaking with leaders as they try to adapt to what’s happening in the world right now.
There has been a blend of under-reaction, over-reaction and insightful action.
I found myself telling a story to a few about James Stockdale (who I will return to in a future post) who is a famous US military officer. Famous for the recognition of his resilience while being captured as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War, and in the most extreme and inhumane conditions.
It has been amazing to watch the mental impact on many people over the last few weeks as the Coronavirus has moved around the world.
The uncertainty and volatility brought into the financial markets is just one example of the consequences to this phenomenon. People in Australia fighting over toilet rolls in a supermarket is another!
When things become more uncertain, most become more fearful.
And what we will see now in the coming weeks and months, is that fear creates other problems.
The words were from a very smart and experienced leader and we had been discussing their approach to how the interacted with their staff. He had been silent for over a minute as he digested something I’d shared around the inner approach to business.
“I’ve been focused on ‘being right’. But I should be focused on ‘getting it right’.”
It was a beautiful way of saying something that’s prevalent for many.
If you’re living in Ireland, you’re very aware of the recent political changes that happened at the national elections over a week ago.
If you’re not living here, the very short summary is that there was a huge surge in support for Sinn Féin, the socialist, left-wing Irish republican political party, which has re-shaped the Irish political landscape.
The rate of change in today’s world continues to accelerate, and we can see this with technology, economics and politics. Only this weekend in Ireland, there has been a major shift in the balance of political power. A new term for this time, being used in business circles, is the VUCA age.
I remember speaking a few years ago at a conference where there were several speakers. I was standing to the side of a stage, getting ready to go on after a well known man. As I listened, he rattled off numerous inspirational slogans, one after another.
“I hate where I’m at.” she said. “Tell me more”, I replied. She did and as she described it, it didn’t sound great. “So what are you going to do about it?” , I asked. Blank look, and this from someone who is smart and perceived to be very successful, strong and confident.