Leadership and Communication

If you’re going to call a meeting right now, you’d better be crystal clear about who and what it’s for.

(The discomfort of trying to manage suddenly disrupted operations and dispersed people probably isn’t a good enough excuse.)

As a friend of mine recently pointed out, “keep the trains running on time” — the default message for many leaders — sounds really tone-deaf right now. There just isn’t that much on the trains. Business and life go on, as they must, but not as before.

There are really only two topics worth discussing at the moment: what’s now, and what’s next. In other words, is everyone OK now, and what can we do to set ourselves up to stay OK over the short to long term?

Many leaders are still uncomfortable with (if not in direct denial of) uncertainty, and the inherent uncertainty of these conversations is likely to cause a lot of leaders a lot of discomfort.

Most of the time, most people want to be seen and heard. That’s especially true when under stress and uncertainty. And when there’s only one conversation going on in the world, the only decision is how much time you’re willing to devote to it in any other conversation you might want to have.

The question before leaders is this: how comfortable are you with moving into a more pastoral style of relating to your people? Can you sit with the uncertainty and discomfort of this moment and the future? Can you find a way, as Gen. Stanley McChrystal once said, to put a hand on a shoulder when you can’t be physically present?


PSAs for the day:

  • Professional persuaders, tell folks to stay home (via IttyBiz)
  • Now that we’re all online, what can you do to make the conversation better? (Seth Godin)
  • Keep sane by practicing mindfulness — even while washing your hands (Ten Percent)
  • Rather than stay stuck at home, now’s a great time to create. Join Scott Perry and me on Zoom at 4:00pm ET tomorrow (Thursday) for a conversation about doing the work you’ve always wanted to do. Details and Zoom link here.