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As the world around us continues to dive deeper into BANI, it’s becoming clearer that ‘what got us here won’t get us there’. It feels like we are at the ‘edge of chaos’.

Globally leadership teams are coming together to re-connect in this peri-post pandemic phase; to collaborate, and co-create their Strategy for the next year. It’s no easy task setting objectives for twelve months when one week seems to bring changes at a pace and scale seldom seen in our leadership history.

In the Dare to Lead ™ training, Dr Brené Brown says that this is a brutally hard time to be leading people. 

This past week I’ve had the privilege of attending a Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence retreat in Sardinia, Italy. As a Preferred Partner in APAC, it’s always a joy being reunited with their leadership team, and this time especially hearing their CEO’s thoughts on the role of Emotional Intelligence in Strategy at this current moment in organizational history.   

Leadership teams are looking for ways to help their people navigate BANI, find opportunity in the chaos, think differently, do more with less, remain calm in an increasingly anxious environment, and sustainably prevent burnout.   

And importantly, become skilled up in delivering on Strategy that constantly changes.

Emotions drive people, and people drive performance.

If we want people to be agile and comfortable at the edge of chaos, we have no choice other than to help them to grow their Emotional Intelligence. To be smarter with their feelings, to be imaginative, comfortable with risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure ~ Dr Brené Brown’s definition of vulnerability.

One way to support them to deliver on organizational Strategy is to develop their understanding of the 9 Principles of Emergent Strategy (Adrienne Maree Brown):

  • Small is good. Small is all (the large is a reflection of the small: Break Strategy down into smaller brain-friendly chunks. James Clear in his wonderful book ‘Atomic Habits’ writes about the power and compounding effect of 1% changes
  • Change is constant. Be like water: The waves of change are like the ocean, an incessant flow of energy with some smaller waves and at time, waves of tsunami proportions. We have to build a surfboard of Emotional Intelligence to ride all types of waves (CLO)
  • There is always enough time for the right work. There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it: Set your teams up for success by giving them the skills and autonomy to make decisions at their level, rather than creating chains of command that lead to stuckness and blockages in the system
  • Never a failure. Always a lesson: Prioritize growing Psychological Safety in your people. Develop cultures where people feel safe to speak up, where everyone learns how to listen to connect, and mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and learning
  • Trust the people. If you trust the people, they become trustworthy: Asking for help is the quickest way to build trust; and autonomy motivates people. Trust is often described as the invisible glue ~ the foundation of relationships, and without it, it’s going to be virtually impossible to deliver on your Strategy
  • Move at the speed of trust: Trust is an emotion; when present it activates our pre-frontal cortex. When we understand the many elements of trust, and how to grow trust amongst our people, delegation processes become smoother. Accountability follows, and systems flow
  • Focus on critical connections rather than critical mass. Build the resilience by building the relationships: It’s all about people, people, people. When people feel included, that their voice has been heard and that they belong, they will find it easier at the edge of chaos. Psychological Safety will embed a motivated, growth mindset where continued learning is respected and rewarded.
  • Less prep. More presence: Action Bias is taking a heavy toll on successful Strategic thinking and direction. So often people are solving the wrong problems, as they dive daily into ever increasing, urgent ‘TO DO’ lists. Presence is a skill, a muscle we have to build ~ so it’s no surprise seeing so many organizations embedding mindful and breathwork practices across their teams
  • What you pay attention to grows:  Be clear on the Urgent versus Important Matrix.  Start your days and weeks with the Important work ~ when your brains are fresh, imaginative and change resilient. Focus on growing cultures of wellness and wellbeing ~ so people have the resilience for the long haul of a BANI environment.

As you read this Emergent Strategy list, it may be helpful to answer these questions:

  1. In what aspects is your organization doing well (in terms of supporting your people to be better prepared to deliver on Strategy)?
  2. What else could be done to help your people and your systems to improve?

Cheers Alison

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