In our firm, we have a protocol called "paint the wall." It's a code given to our clients that represents the need for an on-the-spot situational coaching call. For our team, it is equivalent to receiving an SOS. When we receive communications with Paint the Wall (PTW) in the subject line, it is a signal that there is a crisis point - the client is about to react vs. respond to a situation and would like to talk through next steps. In many cases, the PTW is followed by a 'no need' call, signifying that in the time that the client took to send that message, they had the opportunity to Pause, Reflect, De-escalate, and Respond.
On March 9th, I received a PTW communication that was not immediately followed by a 'no need.' It was from a Senior Leader who began with "Coach – I'm terrified." His "crisis" was leading amid a global pandemic. Before reaching out to me, he had assembled his core leadership team – HR, Legal, CFO, COO, IT, and Communication - to review and implement the organization's business continuity plan, and was very comfortable with the scheduled role out.
At this point, you may be wondering why the PTW call? It's important to note that coaching is a trusted relationship that offers a safe space for clients to be vulnerable, to explore personnel concerns, and to develop and prepare actions. Simply put, the health crisis created an economic crisis that created a business crisis which ultimately led to hardship for his workforce. His ability to lead and show up at the moment was paramount. He knew that leading as an Integrated Professional™ was a leadership quality to be modeled for his workforce and wanted to talk through his plan. His being "terrified" was associated with leading in the unprecedented landscape, where a persons personal, public and professional priorities were converging at a rapid speed.
The Integrated Professional™ is the coaching model DB Latimore Professional Services Group developed, which recognizes that we must integrate all facets of our lives to be productive and live an integrated lifestyle. It is formulated on Albert Einstein's theory of relativity that there are only 24 hours in the day when it comes to the space-time continuum; therefore, we must employ Polarity thinking, which centers around "AND" in managing competing and converging priorities. In short Personal ˖ Public ˖ Professional (priorities)/time.
Knowing this, my client recognized that as he shifted the workforce temporarily to a virtual and geographically disperse model, he would need to lead differently. Three key takeaways from our session:
(1) The way an employee works may be different. It may not be a traditional 8-hour workday but consists of starts, stops, and restarts. Following Linda Galindo's work on the Accountability Cycle, my client would encourage his managers to set clear agreements and clear expectations. At the same time, ensuring employees understood they were:
- Responsible for taking clear ownership of and commitment to their work
- Self-empowered to take personal action to ensure that the work is done
- Accountable to answer for the outcome of their work
- TRUST the Workforce and Respect Boundaries.
(2) Following the work of Bates Communication, Inc on the anatomy of a message Effectively communicate
- Describe what is happening.
- Give a broader perspective.
- Reinforce the positive.
- Be honest.
- Provide a clear sense of how to work together.
(3) Be a Thoughtful Leader – always being mindful of the impact of his behaviors, decision, and leadership will have on those around him. As a leader or employee, your virtual presence is just as significant as your physical presence. It is essential to be credible, confident, and effectively communicate.
Our team at DB Latimore Professional Services Group is available to provide you a safe space to pause, reflect, and respond during this time of crisis through our short-term situational coaching program. To learn about our suite of services, don't hesitate to contact us.
Be safe, Be well.
DB Latimore Professional Services Group, LLC is a Human Resources Professional Services Firm specializing in maximizing workforce productivity in both organizations and individuals. We do this by applying our acclaimed six-part framework "Productivity Powered by P.E.O.P.L.E.®" through multiple organizational development venues which include human resource management services, individual and group coaching, strategic facilitation, and seminars.