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Connection

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.

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Anchors

Essential things, Anchors.

They keep us in a position when we’ve reached somewhere we want to stay. Perhaps the trouble with them, though, is that they are easy to forget.

We spend a little while when we first drop them in place that they are secure, and then when we’re happy, we go off about our other business.

The weather, though, changes. So we can find ourselves with our anchor dragged into new territory, where a different anchor would be more suitable, and gradually we lose security. We may not notice until a storm blows up, and because we’ve been so busy doing other things, we find ourselves with a problem.

Our anchors take many forms. Perhaps the company we work for, our qualifications, and the assumption that the future will be a modified version of the past. We end up wilfully blind.

It’s a good time to check the weather and ensure our anchors are secure or perhaps bring them up and set sail.

Complacency and procrastination leave us anchored in the wrong place and vulnerable to storms.

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Eight

I find it a thought that is both reassuring and frightening at the same time; for the vast majority of us, the trajectory of our lives and careers will be determined by around eight people. Over seven billion people on the planet, and it comes down to eight.

Jim Rohn said that we become the average of the five people we most associate with. Robin Dunbar concurs, with the addition of another ten associates. Lynne McTaggart says it is eight. Neuroscientists tell us our working memory can cope with seven, plus or minus two pieces of information simultaneously, nicely straddling five and eight.

I think the academics tell us what instinctively most of us realise intuitively.

Whatever it is we are trying to do, the way we will make the best progress is to pay attention to those people close by us, and talking with them.

Going for the biggest small we can deal with and those small things will grow, and you with them.

Everything else will follow.