I suspect that one of the consequences of the pandemic has been to accelerate and intensify the changes taking place in the nature of our connection with each other and our awareness of our relationship to the planet.
Somewhere between the disturbing sight of a prime minister asking us to trust the police, in between trying to ease fears around fuel supplies, it is easy to get the impression that he has, in sports terms, “lost the dressing room.” It is something he shares with many leaders right now.
We have spent over eighteen months moving and increasingly forming working relationships online, and finding that they work well. It has, I think, increased the leverage of good leaders, just as it has deleveraged those who relied on personal presence more than relationships to get their way. It is much harder to coerce and intimidate online; it is hard to physically dominate others when they know you’re wearing trackies.
It has become easier to talk with those we want to, rather than just those next to us in the office, and I believe we have become better at it. If we take almost any challenge we face today and boil it down to find its essence; we will find relationships. Relationships are grown through conversations and form the basis of a network of connections.
Speaking personally, my network of strong, meaningful connections has expanded considerably during the pandemic, as has the “bandwidth” of the conversations – more openness, challenge, creativity and emotional connection. I am sure I am not alone.
Things have changed. Authority and credibility lie far less in job title and corner office and far more in connection. We will only listen to those who listen back and demonstrate that they have heard.
Now we have learned how to do it, quickly and easily, in short, online sessions; nothing less will do, whether online or in the office. Effective leadership has always relied on connection through conversation rather than coercion. Now we have no excuse.