Last week we held a cross-client conversation on the topic of behaviour in uncertainty; it certainly felt like a relevant topic given the current climate and what we’re experiencing. What I enjoyed was the bringing together (for the first time) leaders from across our range of clients, from those that have worked with us for a long time to those that have only just started work with us; those whose businesses have been severely affected by COVID-19 and are struggling for survival to those whose businesses are booming yet are feeling the pressure to meet increased demand.
There was no objective for this discussion other than to provide a space for people to connect with one another and have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences over the past couple of months and how they might have been responding, consciously or subconsciously. One thing that struck me was how grounded and connected it felt: one person sharing “how nice it has been to just have the space to think about how I am and what I might be learning from this situation.”
We have worked with David Kantor’s Structural Dynamic theory with a variety of our clients, and we referred back to this approach during the call given it was something in common across the group. Using this tool was a way to remind people of the nature of each of our behavioural tendencies and stuck patterns in our interactions with others and a reassurance that there was no ‘perfect way’ to respond to a tricky situation. We explored how given the increased uncertainty and anxiety some are currently experiencing, these patterns of behaviours may have become more extreme or even have shifted completely, and we gave some time for people to reflect and consider this before they discussed with others.
In my own personal reflections, I noted how my tendency to seek control and clarity had been triggered in various ways throughout the past couple of months. In some situations, I saw my ingrained habits creep back in as I swept in to take over a project that I felt (not necessarily the truth) was losing focus and oversight. Of course, this irritated people, and although some elements of my intervention were potentially helpful, the reality is, there was probably a more supportive and collaborative way of getting to a similar outcome.
I also noted, however, many situations where in the past I might have had a physical reaction to the lack of clarity and coordination, a sort of acceptance of the messiness and enjoyment of letting it go. I think this has been supported by the extra space I have been gifted due to the lockdown, the introvert in me is jumping for joy at the reduced travel and more balanced work-life schedule. That said, I am acutely aware of what a luxury this has been and one I must continue to be grateful for when so many are struggling and feeling a sense of loss in so many ways.
We have been inundated with invitations to family calls, ‘house parties’, work pub-quizzes and team virtual meetings, but I think this call had a different positioning. Having space to take stock and think about how we have been experiencing the last few months may feel a ‘nice to have’ but what I took from the session last week was, despite how crazy and ‘out of control’ people might be feeling, taking the time to reflect on our responses and behaviours and talk this through with others felt valuable, important and even necessary to ensure we (and many as leaders of organisations responsible for large groups of people) can be the best we can be with the situations we face.
If you've found this blog useful, stimulating, thoughtful in any way, you might be interested in joining me and my RISE colleagues in our "Series of Messy Conversations." I look forward to exploring with you!