Day 8

Day 8

It really is the weirdest of times. Tonight I had that slightly surreal feeling, similar to what you have when you wake up in Europe really early, time-zone confused, but wide awake. Feels like a new beginning.

Quite quickly it’s become a completely different work routine, meetings are almost all on time, everyone on screen, clothes increasingly casual – am I really wearing a Nike T-shirt to a business meeting? you know the one with the very large logo across the chest –colleagues opening bits of their homes to the team without any explanation. What even is work any more? Is this really happening?

Paris

There’s a documentary on Netflix The Next Pandemic, released in November 2019. The next pandemic will probably be a virus jumping from another species it says. Right. Bill Gates says on the documentary “We don’t know when the next pandemic will happen“. We do now!

Since SARS, scientists have been investigating bats in Southern China where it is believed that the virus started. Great work but it wasn’t bats this time. There’s work being done to develop a universal influenza vaccine but it’s said to be “years away”.

The next pandemic is inevitable, its said, but our technology has stopped a virus before, it says. One of the earliest uses of technology was during the Black Plague, when travelers were quarantined!

The story of COVID-19 is being told now. We don’t know where it will end, but it will end for sure. It will be a story of a virus that spread rapidly, with most people having no or mild symptoms. But when it struck bad it could be deadly, particularly to those over 70, or those over 60 with poor health. Most cases went undetected.

Global measures were implemented, but too slowly and inconsistently, to isolate people, but the quarantining of travelers was woefully inadequate and caused the global spread. Severe restrictions were shown to slow the virus’ spread in communities and eventually, after six months the virus faded and a vaccine was developed.

The political fallout was large. Governments all around the world were thrown out in elections that followed, not because the voters didn’t think they tried to do something, but because the economic impact was seen in hindsight, to be far greater than the problem. Ironically, one of the leaders who prevaricated for several weeks, but eventually acquiesced to strong internal isolation measures, was re-elected even though his country had the highest infection rate. President Trump went on to serve a full second term winning the popular vote, something he hadn’t achieved in his first election.

Whoops, just woke up again. Did I say I should be in Europe on my holiday right now? Barcelona at this very moment to be precise. Well lucky I’m not but I did have that time zone spaced out feeling for a moment like I was there.

I suppose I could be wrong in all of this.

Have a great day 9!

Stephen

Day 7

Day 7

You know on the late night American TV talk shows they take the mickey out of weird news items around the world. Right now, we’re probably lucky than there’s lots of other news.

Policing cauliflower pricing caught my eye and distracted me from what was otherwise another very busy day. All I could think of was mother’s white sauce and my stubborn refusal to eat the stuff! Much prefer Broccoli, but Cauliflower has gone very hot, so hot that we’re dobbing in the supermarkets for over-pricing. And that’s found its way to a press conference.

Other snippets from the press conference were that there were 61 new or probable cases with 2 people in serious condition and a further 12 also in hospital. Pretty soon, the entire New Zealand story on COVID-19 will be about two things: the border and the economy.

My local park had a relaxed pre Home-D feel about it this evening. Most people appeared ready to get back to normal life. What was being talked about today was the economic crisis that’s been created. This will almost certainly be the main conversation going forward, as we move to a more ordinary state of living and threat assessment.

Seven days! A whole full week and still going strong – felt a bit scratchy today – I think it was from too little sleep and non-stop video calls. A working from home challenge. And new ones will emerge. A friend tonight on a video glass of wine wondered how new people are integrated into the culture when everyone is working remotely. I’m not sure what the questions are on that one yet. But it’ll be a thing, with consultant methodology to go with it soon.

Eat ya veges!

Stephen

 

Day -1

Day -1

Well technically I think today was Day -2 as we head into Country-wide Lockdown but by the time you read this it’ll be Day -1. Listening to the government’s announcement with two colleagues, we knew that there would be something – hence the announcement – but hearing it was surreal. We’re saving “tens of thousands” captured us, especially as the global tally of deaths is 14,000, but who’s going to argue the toss. It’s important and a significant step has been made to curtail the virus.  As a business we’ve been planning for this day for some time and we’re more or less ready to go but you’d be fooling yourself if you thought that it would be all smooth sailing.

Humour was important today – was this The Handmaid’s Tale? After all, many governments around the world have authoritarian bents nowadays don’t they! We can still walk can’t we? (yes on our own). Coffee is an essential service right? (wrong, but you can get it from the Supermarket). Can you go to the Supermarket in Warkworth? (well, we don’t know, but there might be a checkpoint at the Johnson’s Tunnels “back to your own New World son“). Is it really a good idea now to live in an 80 sqm apartment? (it could be tough but see the walking question and maybe we can just, you know, go to the supermarket all the time!). Our grandparents fought in wars, we have to wash our hands and watch Netflix!

It’s serious of course – no gaming the system – you’re gaming all of us if you do. No “hanging out” with friends and neighbours at all. But you can and should phone, text, video-conference, even Facebook (I might have to cancel my self-imposed amnesty).

Alley Of A Mall Showing Closed Shops During LockdownThere’s lots of leadership on show right now, but the most important leadership we all need right now is our own – we’re going to be on our own only with those at home – so healthy eating, lots of exercise, catch up virtually with friends and relatives, work (very important!), do your family tree, re-watch the Detectorists (it has all the dry humour needed for this hour). Self care. It will pass.

Stephen

A golden era of Rugby

A golden era of Rugby

I try and tell myself that it’s important to enjoy the Rugby win or lose, which isn’t that difficult supporting the All Blacks, who win over 90% of their games,  or if you go back for the last 115 years or so, 78%.  Making it the most successful team anywhere, in any sport, league or country.

Well that feels better already! I woke up this morning wondering if it was a (bad) dream. No, it wasn’t.  I was suffering somewhere in the grief cycle. The grief cycle! Really? Shock-Anger-Resentment-Acceptance-Hope. Time to get a grip – it’s a game. Sports!

I love Rugby, especially the All Blacks. I’ve watched every game since 2008 which has been a stunning era in New Zealand Rugby. Even when they lose, they’ve sorted it out, taken the learnings and grown some more legs.

The trouble with a RWC playoff game, is that there’s no coming back. Well not for “four-more-years” (ouch). Hardly seems right, we get to change the government more frequently than that!

So what to do? Phone a friend, listen to some talk back (very briefly) to realise how really troubled some people are, find something that means something special to you other than Rugby – some selfish indulgence – maybe a new project, and if you’re stuck remind yourself that England would have to keep winning until long after you’ve gone to catch up!

iStock-1056806530.jpg

The last twelve years have been a golden era of Rugby for the All Blacks. It hasn’t ended, they won’t be #1 now on the official rankings or holder of the Webb Ellis Cup. But they’ll be back before you know it, thrilling us with entertaining and fast-paced rugby and a Haka that only us Kiwis get.  And mostly winning!

Stephen

p.s. Webb Ellis is the supposed inventor of the game of Rugby Union. He was an Anglican Clergyman. Little did he know he invented a new religion for New Zealand. He might be disappointed I sense.

Imagine if Trump lived here!

Imagine if Trump settled in New Zealand. Shiny white teeth and big hair, he’d toy with an election or two, but not really go anywhere, then when the moment was right, leap to the top.

Crowds would gather on Wynyard Wharf “Trump for PM!” on their T-shirts. Massive promises would be made, probably about things that were already underway or not possible.

Supporters would have a crack at Bill English – after all he represented all that was wrong with politics – which was mainly that it was way too boring, like Hillary. That wouldn’t be the main accusation though. Trump’s supporters would drag up some ancient email server-type scandal – say Bill’s housing allowance – that was, like Hillary’s emails, thoroughly investigated and dispatched. Criminal! You’d see it all over social media “Should be in Jail!”. Trump would remain silent on the issue as his supporters were doing all the heavy lifting. He’d know very well that whatever the truth of the matter, if you said it loud enough it became the truth.

He’d look for an enemy. Farmers would be a good start – after all they wreck the environment and drive Range Rovers – “Tax their water!” and throw in Chinese water-bottlers, who, despite using only 0.01% of NZ’s water were a convenient reach out to those who have supported racist policies. Full-blown attacks on immigrants would come later. Like the manufacturing job losses back home, he’d work out quickly that it was also the Chinese here who were responsible for New Zealand’s housing and and related poverty woes. And obviously Bill and his mates were in cahoots with them and got donations from them, no doubt.

The debates would be planned. He’d be new and exciting against boring (CRIMINAL!) Bill. His supporters would start campaigns against the media. On-line campaigns would rage to have any debate hosts who didn’t support him removed. Supporters would find a local news outlet that supported Bill and do a Clinton Network News on them, so to speak.  Maybe “National’s Boring Rag” would work!

Bill would bring his mate Sir John in to help. Just like Hillary who tried rolling President Clinton out.  Wouldn’t work though, the title would be like a red rag to a bull. “Another CRIMINAL!” his supporters would scream “wrecked the country and left with all our money!”. They’d allege he was responsible for a death somewhere just to spice it up.

His supporters, not initially natural allies of anti-immigrant and other populist policies, would subtly, then openly, embrace populist political parties. After all, there’s a criminal bunch on the other side who have absolutely wrecked the country, and we need their votes to bring the messiah to power. A small price to pay!

Might be a bit more interesting to what we usually have which is pretty boring, safe and secure.

Never happen though. We’re much too nice a people.

Have a great weekend.

Stephen

Is that my hot water?

I’ve worked very late the last few days getting ready for a new programme we’re running next week. Working late when under pressure can test my resilience and with it, my sense of humour but I’ve kept it intact so far. Well that’s my own reflection anyhow and I’m the one doing the writing here!

I spent yesterday in Mt Maunganui with clients workshopping (is that really a word?) some concepts that will be used to roll out some performance management and training over the coming year. It was a pleasure to work with people who know how to have a laugh. We cracked jokes and had several Larry David moments including “was that hot water for my long black or are we sharing? I feel I need to claim it if it’s just mine you know”.

I reckon we achieved a lot yesterday. We worked pretty hard and the ability to have a laugh during the process was an important component of how we worked. We didn’t put a team charter together, we all took roles at leading and at times there were random jokes that on the face of it distracted, but actually kept the energy up, the connections alive and the thought processes going.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a joke? Is there a relationship between humour and creativity? Humour and irony in particular is an important part of our culture and can have an important role in leadership.

Do you use humour in your leadership? Do you try to? Or does it just happen? Giving feedback truthfully and with empathy will require emotional intelligence, experience and a lot of self-awareness. Delivering difficult news about a restructure proposal will be a serious business. And you won’t want to make light of it.

Lot’s of leadership though, is about creating an energy that gets your team in a creative space, if you’re wanting to take your business to the next level. Taking that step-change you know you need to create to make a difference.

That’s where humour can come in. Not taking the mickey out of each other – that can easily be bullying – but sharing humour with each other. Irony that acts like a team brain gym, keeping the energy up and the creative juices flowing.

Think of it another way: does the permanently serious boss who frowns when you’re having a laugh really get the team going? Chances are it’s about something else – some fear of not being in the group which he or she won’t be if there’s no engagement. No casual Friday around this dude!

So are you a leader with humour? I’d say you can’t be one without the other. Humour is that special, connecting characteristic of being a human being that not only separates us from the animals – it can separate us from the mundane.

Back off, the hot water is mine! It’s actually quite a serious business. Maybe humour is actually the opposite of what we think it is. Seriously, you need it. Especially if you want to engage.

Stephen

Better the devil you know

He’s a funny character. Inappropriately dressed for our southern hemisphere summer, a bit dodgy at times, but somehow the old guy survives. You can’t deny that if the test of leadership is followers, then Santa has to be up there with the best!

Situational leadership it may be, but none-the-less he has most pre-teen kids (and quite a few teens too) wrapped around his little finger.

The thought of his presence in the local mall is enough to send hundreds of locals scurrying to visit.

Promises he makes, none of which he can fulfill, but rarely are his followers let down thanks to his wide network of parent-helpers. Imagine if the PTA had this sort of commitment.

“You be good or Santa won’t visit” they say, and the kids follow.

You have to say, his influencing skills are second to none too.

So when you look at his leadership characteristics – wide network of followers, even wider network of supporters, able to influence just by his presence, appears relaxed but clearly high energy, carbon neutral transport system and last but not least, authentic dress style – unmoved by trends.

There is an undercurrent of stick as well as carrot and I’ve often worried about alternative uses of the letters in his name and some other guy who’s often red too.

What the hell, it’s a bit of fun, and we’ve known him all our lives so I say better the devil you know!

Go Santa. What can I help you with?

ps Christmas Music here