Leading and managing human transitions through adversity
August 18, 2020 / /
Connecting with a diverse range of my coaching and consulting clients over the past few weeks, has seriously deepened my understanding of the impact of disruption and adversity, on our stress levels and neurology, and the importance of leading and managing these factors, from both the business and the human perspective. It reaffirms the importance of leaders and managers becoming more generous, tolerant, caring, empathic, and resilient not only with themselves, and also with others, by strategically leading and managing both the business and human transitions to a post Covid-19 world. Taking both a business and a human perspective Because so many leaders and managers have been emotionally hijacked by the often-dire consequences of their own particular series of downturns and stress levels, they often fail to realize that they have a crucial role in empathizing and supporting their people and teams to transition safely and effectively, from the pre Covid-19 world to what could become an abundant, adaptive, innovative and sustainable post Covid-19 world. By failing to focus the human aspects of transitioning from the old to the new, they are unable to help people see, acknowledge, own, and deal with the amount of disruption, dis-regulation and potentially damaging increased levels of individual and collective stress. Not doing so, will result in a range of reactive human responses – “where everything has changed, but nothing is different”. Mindset matters most Whether you are a self-employed individual, team, or organisation, the range of current adverse global problems and economic conditions, have created a perfect and stressful storm. Where according to a recent, well-researched article in the New York Times by Kari Leibowitz and Alia Crum: “We can actually use that stress to improve our health and well-being. Over a decade of research — ours and that of others — suggests that it’s not the type or amount of stress that determines its impact. Instead, it’s our mindset about stress that matters most”. This means that we are able to individually and collectively, manage and shift our mindsets, be intentionally positive and caring in supporting and enabling ourselves and others we interact with, to lead and manage the human transition effectively and systemically to co-create what might be a post Covid-19 world. Planning human transitions Planning your own and your teams’ transition astutely, starts with taking a very first step in helping them make sense and connect with their worlds right now. Doing this by letting go of assumptions and withholding judgement, and then helping them understand how disruption and adversity impact peoples’ individual and collective safety, survival, and security needs. Noticing and hearing people’s reactive responses, helps them regulate their stress arousal, and potentially creates the safe “allow space” for enabling people to develop better tolerance to stress. This creates an opening for actually using that stress to improve our health and well-being and ultimately becoming more adaptive and resilient in the face of it. We have the power to change our stress mind-sets Being generous, tolerant, adaptive, and resilient, in the face of disruption and adversity creates cracks, openings, and thresholds for inquisitiveness, curiosity, wonder and amazement about the possibilities’ that could emerge through today’s perfect and stressful storm. Leading and managing transitions as a transformation point, for collaborating to build successful and sustainable individual and collective futures, potentially affects some of the deep systemic changes organisations and the world needs right now. The three phases of human transitions I had first-hand experience and moment of truth of this when, almost ten years ago, we relocated to the Middle East, from Australia to an environment in a constant state of disruption and adversity, anxiety and stress, which I found deeply confronting and enormously challenging. I learned that for transitions to be successful, they typically have three phases:
- First, I quickly realised that I had two choices, I could either avoid facing my new reality, by applying my reality distortion filters and sustain my old lens, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours that suited my old safe situation in Sydney. That collude with my old Compass Learning normal and my old ways and business as usual habits, as a way of coping with the intrusive new culture. Yet, if I was going to succeed, and even flourish in such a radically different, competitive, survival-based culture, I could choose to let go of the “old” to see and embrace my new world with “fresh” eyes. To bravely focus on creating cracks, openings, and thresholds to stimulate inquisitiveness, curiosity, wonder, and amazement about the possibilities’ that could emerge from that perfect and stressful storm.
- Secondly, having operated as a trainer and facilitator, I knew that I had to become compassionate, courageous, and creative if I was going to successfully acknowledge, own and deal with the neurological and psychological “no man’s land” between my old world and the new world that was emerging. Letting go of my old roles and learning to become a coach, and to understand and regulate the impact of my survival brain, and the chasm that exists between it and our thinking brains.
- Thirdly, choosing to begin anew, I learned to become adaptive and resilient through embracing a new paradox lens, by working with both the constraints of my new environment and with focussing on what might or could be possible to create, invent and innovate, within it.