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What a start to the decade… How to best respond ?

March 13, 2020

We live in interesting times!  What a start to the decade – its only March, three months in and so much has unfolded already.

Some nation-states attempt lock-down, some organisations try and control who travels where, others blanket-cancel external events while allowing internal events, some schools are closed while others are open. Many are confused what to do. Old rules no longer apply.

Having spent time with senior leaders this week, one can viscerally sense which are consciously sensing-and-responding to the unfolding nature of the Corona-crisis, and which are anxious and uneasy with not-knowing what to do or how to plan when yesterday’s predict-and-control logic is flying out the window.

Often, there is no right or wrong – we are simply learning as we go.

(Photo credit: DBPost)

This unpredictability is part of a new-norm that’s here to stay. How do we get used to this new-norm? How do we let go of the deep-seated need for controlling that which is uncontrollable? How can we learn to sense when to apply linear-control logic and when to let-go of the need for control? How do we get comfortable with the uncomfortable?

This morning, the UK’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance provided a balanced coherent explanation of what is unfolding and how best to embrace this new-norm.  On the BBC’s Today programme, he explained that there could well be another virus next year, and the year after. Hence, we ought learn to adapt to this new-norm.  He put forward that while we can find sensible ways to protect the most vulnerable groups in society, the majority of the population can build resilience to this and other viruses through mitigation and adaptation as we embrace the need for ‘herd immunity’.

Our mechanistic world view relies on command and control and is unable to deal with this new reality.  We have to sense, respond and adapt to these situations.  What does this mean in practice?

It means we first need to recognise the limit of our control and avoid taking actions that give us the ‘illusion of control’ yet do little to constructively adapt and evolve to the unfolding situation.    It has been interesting to witnessed different organisations (and nation-states) reacting with ‘lock-downs’ or rather sensing-and-responding as the situation unfolds.

Recognising the systems in which we live and work while accepting the anxiety that comes from our lack of control of these emergent systems is part of embracing this new-norm. We can learn to open-up beyond fear and control, and become more conscious of how we best respond to emergence.

A current example is being self-responsible for our hygiene and how we best relate with each other to mitigate any infectious spreading where possible, self-isolating if need be. This helps slow the pace of the virus spread so we give our infrastructure systems, health and emergency services, the time and space to respond while building up our collective and individual resilience.  It also means that ‘herd immunity’ can build up over the longer term.  It is futile to try and block-out a virus through lock-down control-mechanics, yet we can become conscious of how we adapt to a new-norm. Anxiety and reactivity can transmute into self and system response-ability.

This exemplifies the need for Regenerative Leadership – a kind of leadership that is sense-and-respond orientated and systemically –aware rather than control-and-predict orientated and mechanistically-focused.

Changing our fundamental view of how we engage with the fast-changing world we live and work in, asks us to become conscious of our individual and collective desires for mechanistic, control-based logics. There are times when top-down hierarchy can be effective – for instance, giving consistency of messaging around response-protocol across diverse hospitals and doctor networks over short time-frames. Yet, there is also a need to sense into the interconnected and emergent nature of how life really is beyond illusions of control. There is a deeper Logic of Life that as Regenerative Leaders we can learn to become conscious of. We can learn to more coherently sense-and-respond amid volatility by opening-up to how life really is.

Although this shift from one world view to another can feel unsettling and can create anxiety, it is actually an exciting transformation that is encouraging us to become more aware, adaptive and resilient so humanity is able to adapt, evolve and thrive, while finding deeper harmony with life on Earth – which is interconnected from soil to sea, and bacteria to business, regardless of country or class.

So what does that mean right now?  A simple but effective step is to recognise what we actually have control over, what we can influence, and what is beyond our influence.    If we can’t control or influence it, then it’s a waste of our precious energy to get anxious about it.  Nick Triggle, Health Correspondent for the BBC, summed it up: keep calm, carry on, take the advice to wash hands regularly, isolate if we develop symptoms and take steps to protect our most vulnerable.  This virus is with us now, is likely to return in myriad forms, and is an example of our interconnected global reality.

Rather than relying on totalitarian George Orwell-style ‘lock-downs’ that create confusion amid the illusion of control, we can learn to better sense-and-respond at local levels, take personal and collective responsibility for how we engage both locally and globally and cultivate personal, organisational and community resilience.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can lead in ways that unlock the Logic of Life within ourselves, our teams and our organisations – you can:

  1. Read the book Regenerative Leadership by Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm


The clarity, inspiration, synergy and wisdom of this book is breath-taking

–  Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, former Chief Executive  of 157 Group, Centre for Excellence in Leadership


2. Immerse yourself in the practicalities of Regenerative Leadership with practitioners Darren Hilton and Giles Hutchins’ immersion in the ancient woodlands of Springwood Farm, easy access from London, car and train networks, with suitable Corona-Virus hygiene in place, providing a get-away from it all while exploring next-stage leadership for this new-norm. For more information, see

This blog has been co-authored by organisational and leadership development specialists Darren Hilton and Giles Hutchins.

feel free to join the LinkedIn group  Leadership Immersions, here

and next-stage leadership Facebook group here:

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