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Leadership in Chaos

Leadership in Chaos

Author: Ian McClean

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Concise lessons in leadership in a world of chaos. Hosted by Ian McClean, leadership expert and founder of Flow Group and GreenLine Conversations.
33 Episodes
In this episode I focus on why, counter-intuitively, Prioritising & Planning become even more crucial in Chaos. Insights include:How Leadership is a delicate blend of feeling and actionWhat is the leadership contributionWhy Prioritise and Plan when there are no right answersThe real reason Leaders resist setting direction3 Cs – How to set a Direction that inspiresRelated Episodes:Episode 26: “The Leadership Contribution”Episodes 12 - 14: “Motivation in Chaos - 1, 2, 3”Episode 5: “Clarity in Chaos”Support the show (
In this important Omnibus episode, the first of 2021, I share a simple but profound and effective way to prepare yourself for a better 2021 – in spite of the Chaos. The Leader's PPE stands for:P – Perspective (Scripting the right Story)P – Priorities (Choosing the right Action)E – Equilibrium (Maintaining Resilience) The method is both holistic and human, and can be applied by both leaders and non-leaders.So feel free to share with anyone struggling to get started in the Chaos of 2021.Support the show (
In the final Episode of 2020 I select the top 5 Leadership lessons we can extract from the most trying of years. Lessons include:Leadership is critical & not just necessary during ChaosLife is random, discriminating, and unfair: meet it where it isThe “What’s Possible” mindsetThe Old World wasn’t perfect anywayPeople double down on their real self during ChaosSupport the show (
At a time when people are feeling increasing disconnection, this week I explore how to deepen connection.In this episode I explain:What Star Wars has to do with building connectionHow we often think we’re building connection when in fact we’re notHow our Tacit Wisdom is stronger than our intellectual knowledgeWhat to focus on to deepen connection…And ..our discomfort with silenceSupport the show (
This week Ian discusses how to approach those Difficult Conversations.In this episode Ian explains:Why conversations are more difficult during a pandemic crisisHow you need to get “Comfortable with Uncomfortable”How your Mindset influences the conversation outcomeThe opportunity in the Difficult…And how – approached correctly – there is often an even better waySupport the show (
In this episode Ian explains how leadership impact is real, and really matters. Also:Leadership and the Law of Cause and EffectHow the CEO is also the CCO (Chief Culture Officer)Leadership’s Great UnderestimationThe link between autocratic leadership and gun salesWhat 19th century detective novels have to do with LeadershipSupport the show (
In this week's episode, Ian discusses a way of viewing leadership as a form of contribution, which differs from the conventional way of viewing leadership as somebody who is at the top of a hierarchy. So, what is the leadership contribution?Support the show (
So far, the Leadership in Chaos Podcast has mostly focused on dealing with the "chaos" in the title. This week, Ian discusses leadership itself. So here's the question. What is leadership?Support the show (
Ian reminisces on an old interview he did about how culture happens in organisations.Support the show (
Presidential Leadership in Chaos: Ian reflects on the recent US presidential debate and what it means for leadership. Support the show (
Listening Beyond Bias: Ian discusses how we need to learn to suspend our own biases if we are to really listen effectively and build trust.Support the show (
EP 21: Bias in Chaos

EP 21: Bias in Chaos


Ian discusses the importance of identifying and addressing bias, especially during these times of heightened tension and ambiguity. Support the show (
Ian discusses how building commitment is a key skill for successful leadership, especially during these times of increased uncertainty. Support the show (
Ian returns from a period of "Zooming Out" on family vacation to share some thoughts.Support the show (
We discuss the importance of listening for the other side of a conversation, argument or agreement. Context is king,Transcript:Episode18 Context in Chaos[00:00:00] When the COVID story is finally written, it's then, and only then that we'll understand whether we're currently at chapter two or chapter 10, or indeed how many chapters there out of this whole story?  [00:00:13]The one thing I think most   people will agree is that it feels like the end of the beginning, where we've emerged from lockdown and with the handbrake released we're coming into the next stage or the next evolution of this whole chaos that's was thrust upon us. In emerging, we are very clear that there are some difficult discussions and conversations that need to happen. And from the last two episodes, which were around conversations in chaos and the response to them, we realized that there's a real appetite out there to understand how better to deal and have better conversations. [00:00:53] To that end, we're going to spend this episode talking about the importance of context. [00:00:59] What do I [00:01:00] mean by that? [00:01:00] Well, in the general spectrum of things at the very start of this lockdown period, the mantra that prevailed was that we're all in this together .Well that was partly true. The situation of Covid was universal and the same for everybody, but the implications of its impact were different depending on one thing: the individual's context.[00:01:26] I have a nephew who's young free and single for whom it was a gift. He didn't have to go into work every day. He could work from home without the distractions. He could get his work done in half the time. So he had half the time available to himself to do what he pleased. Contrast that with some other friends of mine, both of whom are working as a couple at home, from home, with young children. No balcony, in an apartment, no garden, trying to care for elderly parents. Whilst one of them was diagnosed positive with COVID. Different contexts, different realities. [00:02:00] [00:02:00] It's obvious when I say it, that when two people enter into a conversation, particularly one that's difficult. It's obvious to say that both people are coming at it from a different context.[00:02:13] Whilst we know that to be true consciously. How people typically prepare for a conversation, particularly where there's a different point of view and we know it is that I start by arsenalling up. I start and look for all the evidence, all the data, all the information, all the facts that support my point of view.[00:02:34] Meanwhile, the person of the other side is doing exactly the same. Without intending it or knowing it we're actually preparing for war. And ultimately the person with the biggest army and the heaviest artillery wins, however, all wars, create collateral damage. In this case residue, which we discussed in the previous episode.[00:02:56] And whilst the conversation might end up high on clarity. [00:03:00] It will end up low on commitment and back to our original previous equation about: clarity X commitment =  leadership effectiveness. A 10 out of 10 clarity is no good. If you've got a zero out of 10 commitment, it still results in zero.[00:03:15] I frequently find leaders who resort to positional power to assert their authority to win a discussion or a debate. Positional power is like a bar of soap. The more you use it, the less you're left with and whilst you might, in the short term, win the battle, you will ultimately lose the war on leadership reputation.[00:03:38] So let me propose to you an alternative aim. The next time you have a conversation. What if your aim was simply to understand the other person's context? Just simply to understandSupport the show (
We continue our exploration of managing your reputation and conversations in chaos.Support the show (
Although, it feels like a bit of an eternity since this complete chaos has started. It's actually only now that your mettle will be tested. And just to reiterate, the entire purpose of this leadership in chaos podcast, that we started 16 weeks ago, was to ensure that your leadership reputation is not the casualty. In this episode we share why conversations are key to maintaining a positive relationship with your people. Support the show (
On this episode we cover some interesting insights from our last 15 episodes and polls from our leadership in chaos webinars.Throughout the past 14 weeks, since the start of Lockdown, we at Flow group have consistently polled our clients through our live webinars on their leadership experience to date. From all the data….Below are 6 Responses & 4 Conclusions I thought particularly worth sharing…1. 95% of leaders report their organisation is suffering2. 95% believe there is more pain still to come (Conclusion #1:  This isn’t over yet…)3. 95% believe they are “leading their people well at this stage”…4. … whilst just 65% believe they are being “well-led” by their leaders (Conclusion #2:  This 30% differential represents the “Intention/Impact” Gap. Nobody intends to be an average leader, but we are not judged on our good intentions–only our impact)5. By far the greatest doubt expressed by leaders consistently is in response to the question “My people are asking for what they really need”(Conclusion #3:  The biggest people challenge for leaders is to get past the diplomatic answer to understand what’s really going on for their people)6. 50:50 is the divide between those aching to get back to the office Vs those wanting to remain working remotely.(Conclusion #4: Going Back might be even trickier than Getting Out)Support the show (
On this final part of the Motivation in chaos episode we discuss the five factors that influence human behavior and motivation. The five elements can easily be remembered by thinking of the word SCARF, the status, the certainty, the autonomy, the relatedness, and the fairness. We explore how these factors show up at home with our friends and families.We explain how motivating people in the wrong way can have disastrous consequences.Support the show (
We continue our exploration of how to motivate your people in chaos and how everyone is driven by different motivations. Support the show (
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