It's a very strange time at the moment and I'm writing this 'cocooned' in the cabin at the bottom of our garden.
Yesterday was a weird St Patrick's day as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to escalate and now we find ourselves in a news and social media frenzy unlike anything we've seen before. Opinions, updates and 'news' are coming at us from all corners thicker than faster than ever.
If there was ever a time we needed strong leadership, it's now! And for me, that's what we got from Leo Varadker's state address last night (for those abroad he's our Prime Minister).You can read it in full here.
Did he tell us anything new? No, not really. But what he did do was to reinforce what has been said already and to do that in a really emotional and human way. Being honest, reading back through the speech this morning again, I can't say that I didn't have a bit of a lump in my throat.
So what can business leaders around Ireland and further afield learn from this about how to communicate with your own teams?
Be human - Through his speech he talked about you, we and us, he gave examples of sacrifices we'll all have to make and he used words he'd no doubt use in everyday conversations - 'We will always put your life and your health ahead of any other concern'. He talked about 'grandparents just wanting to give their grandkids a kiss' and his worry for his own family.
Be emotional - He really tugged at the heartstrings but in a way that really helped to emphasise the points he was making - 'It’s going to be very difficult to stay apart from our loved ones .… we need to keep our physical distance to stop the virus ..... check in with your loved ones on Skype or Facetime and promise them you’ll see them again soon.
Be honest - He could have lied. He could have said, as another has (!), "I'm doing a 10/10 job and this will be over by June", but he didn't. He treated us like the adults we are and he was honest - "Many of you want to know when this will be over.The truth is we don’t know yet" and 'While we do not have all the answers now… we are doing and will do all we can to help you through the time ahead".
Be authentic - He might be the Taoiseach but he's also human like the rest of us "My partner, my two sisters, and both their husbands are working in the health service – here in Ireland and in the UK. They are all apprehensive......I am so proud of all of them".
Be inclusive - He didn't just touch on healthcare professionals but on many groups, and, in doing so, he showed that people across the country had a role to play. 'To all the young people watching – I know you are bored and probably a bit fed up but remember that it's tough on your parents too .....to army cadets, librarians and civil servants being retrained......teachers and lecturers finding innovative ways to teach....to hauliers for keeping shelves stocked'
Be repetitive - He repeated the same messages over and over in different ways - "We are asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other.The most basic messages of washing your hands properly and practicing good hygiene around sneezing and coughing are still the most important".
So some useful pointers perhaps, as you, as business leaders continue to communicate with their people across Ireland and further afield.
All the best
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