Jolie speaks with Dr. Steven Cady, the Director of the Institute for Organizational Effectiveness at BGSU, and Professor Charles Kanwischer, Director of the School of Art. They discuss collaborative leadership during times of crisis and the lessons we’ve learned about adaptive teaching, effective communication, and more.

 

Announcer:

From Bowling Green State University and The Institute for the Study of Culture and Society, this is BG Ideas.

Musical Intro:

I'm going to show you this with a wonderful experiment.

Jolie:

Welcome to the BiG Ideas podcast, a collaboration between the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society and the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University. I'm Jolie Sheffer, associate professor of English and American Culture Studies and Director of the ICS. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we're not in studio, but are recording remotely via phone and computer. As always, the opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of BGSU or its employees.

Jolie:

Bowling Green State University is located in the Great Black Swamp, long a meeting place of the Wyandotte, Shawnee, Lenape, Ottawa, Kickapoo, Fox, Pottawatomie, Erie, Miami, Peoria, Chippewa, and Seneca Indian tribes. We honor the rich history of this land and its indigenous inhabitants past and present.

Jolie:

Today, I have the pleasure of being joined by two guests, Dr. Steve Cady and Professor Charlie Kanwischer. Steve is the director of the Institute for Organizational Effectiveness at BGSU. He's world-renowned for his expertise in organizational behavior and development, specifically with the focus on whole system change. His current work involves collaborating with others to develop the best of both online and in-person learning environments.

Jolie:

Charlie is the director of the School of Art and a professor of drawing at BGSU. He's a six time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship. In his administrative role, Charlie studies data to determine what students need to succeed in online learning environments. Steve and Charlie, thank you for joining me today to talk about leadership. Well, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly exemplified the need for the kind of work you do to model collaborative leadership and meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff to deal with this swiftly changing academic landscape. Steve, could you start us off by talking about how your work was immediately impacted in March when the university moved to distance learning and what changes you made?

Steve:

So my work is on two levels, one is in the classroom with my students and then on the second level is my work with my colleagues, you two, and others at BGSU and beyond. On the first level, I immediately talked with my students and when I saw what was coming on the horizon, that we'd likely close down and we'd likely shut classes or go into a online setting, I talked with my students and I talked to them about various scenarios. I talked with him about scenarios in the class, "If we go online, this is what's going to happen. This is what we're going to meet online. This is how we're going to make it work. And this is how I'm going to handle the class, how we're going to handle your learning as well as your grading." And those kinds of things, and really made sure they had their questions answered. I also encouraged them to think about how they were going to handle it, what their scenarios were and what they were going to do.

Steve:

And I gave that advice to some other faculty that I was talking to, and they did that. And they said that it was pretty amazing that all of the sudden, when it happened, their students knew what to do, where to go. It's kind of like that emergency, like in a fire or whatever, where do we meet? Where do we regroup? That kind of thing. So that was number one, that was really important.

Steve:

And the second thing is I sent a note out to my friends and my colleagues and people and said, "Let's get together and support each other. What can we do to help each other? What can we learn from each other? How can we help each other and get better ideas on what to do in this moment?" What emerged from that was 170 people instantly showing up, signing up. We met on a Wednesday, over a hundred people showed up, I said, "You want to meet on Friday?" Another a hundred people showed up. "You want to meet on Saturday?" Another a hundred and something showed up. "Want to meet on Sunday?" Another a hundred and something showed up, and we were meeting almost every day, and then we started meeting weekly. And what came out of that is the importance of community and the importance of supporting each other. And the use of Zoom and the use of video conferencing to be able to see each other, while not ideal, it does work.

Jolie:

How about you, Charlie? How did that transition play out both in your role as a professor and as Director of the School of Art?

Charlie:

Well, it was on us so suddenly, that's what I remember. We were face to face one week... I guess we were reading news reports, we were sort of seeing, sensing this freight train coming at us, but then it was us in a rush. And I can specifically remember a faculty meeting, we called an emergency faculty meeting, when we understood that we would be closing down for what I remember was presented to us as two weeks. We were going to take a two week pause, we were going to suspend face to face classes for two weeks. And I remember really the sense of disbelief and the sense of trepidation that the faculty expressed in this meeting that we conducted to sort of figure out where we were going with the reaction to the initial shutdown.

Charlie:

And then it was an issue of, well, two weeks became a month, right? A month became the rest of the semester, the rest of the semester shaded into getting ready for the fall and knowing that we would have to prepare over the course of the summer. So a big part, I think, of my relationship with the faculty that I'm directing, the faculty that I'm working with, it was kind of leading them through the gradual amplification of the situation, sort of approaching it in stages. And I can remember faculty talking about, "What, if this happens, what if that happens? Have you read this article? It's telling us we can't engage in this set of behaviors anymore, we can't engage in these kinds of teaching practices anymore." And I remember going back again and again to the ideas, here's what we know now, here's what we can put in the firm column. This is something that we have a little bit of certainty about, it's not a whole lot, but we have to use that to begin to project into the future.

Charlie:

So what I found, I guess, was that leading the school at that moment was not just about the moment, it wasn't just about the situation we were in, in that particular moment. It was trying to create, I guess, the right kind of mental attitude, the right kind of response toward an inevitably shifting unfolding future, if that makes sense?

Jolie:

When you are dealing with a moment of such profound uncertainty and constant change, right? That the information, the decisions were not being made once and then decided for a semester, but that week by week, day by day, there might be changes needing to be made, that a big piece of what was effective was actually being really transparent with students and with colleagues about what is known, what isn't, and the fact that there are going to be lots of things the answer is, "I don't know, great question. Let's figure it out. Let's talk about it."

Jolie:

I think it's interesting that that's so important because the tendency, I think a lot of folks have during a time of crisis is to feel like what is demanded of them when in leadership positions is to be decisive and create structure and to be sort of rigid, and that, that is going to be more comforting to people. Could you talk, Steve, maybe a bit about what your own research interests in change management reveals about how people actually best respond to stress and change?

Steve:

Yeah, people support and defend that which they helped to create. And what's interesting is when we're in a learning environment, learning by its nature is about failure. It's about trying, taking risks in a safe space and learning at a deep level. And so when you look at collaboration and you look at leadership, we have spent how many centuries in rows and aisles in classrooms, where you sit and you're talked at, you raise your hand when you're talked to and you rewire the neural pathways in the brain to learn to be very much a linear, responsive thinker in which you don't think for yourself. Yet, the core value of education is we want to empower and inspire students to be leaders, to go out in the world and to be thinkers and to solve problems.

Steve:

So tell me one organization that you go in and sit in rows and aisles, when you go out and work? Show me one place where you're going to sit and be talked at and only speak and answer questions and regurgitate or repeat what you've been taught, so prove that you know what I'm talking about by repeating it back. Give me one example where that's life, it's not.

Steve:

And yet we spend from early childhood, all the way through college, and what's changing now, active learning, engaged learning is really... the flipped classroom, it's all coming back. But for years, and we're just now starting to get to it, for years that's all we've done. So now we create conditions where people go into the work, they sit and they say, "Tell me what to think. Tell me what to do. Where do I go? And what can I do?" And it's like automate. It's appalling to be honest with you.

Steve:

So change, if you want to teach people and you want to lead truly innovative, exciting places where people are joyful, wrestling with ideas, bringing their whole self into a situation. Bringing their mind, their body, their spirit and emotion, they don't just check their brain at the door and be told what to do, and don't share their emotions because it's not an appropriate and they can't be themselves, and they're taught that at school. And before you know what they go home and they have relationship problems because there's emotionally detachment from their kids, from their wives, from their husbands or partners, whatever it might be. And we have created an instructional education system that I think teaches us to be half-brained and half-human. And I think that we are now on the cusp, on the edge of a renaissance in terms of unleashing the whole human being into what is possible. And that is being advocated by all the learning and so forth.

Steve:

So collaborative leadership or leaders who are in environments and changing environments, they've been taught they have to have the answer because everybody keeps telling them to have the answer. It's not their fault and it's not.... And people might say, "Well, you should be transparent. You should be..." Well when they're transparent then the people that are followers take it out on them, passive aggressively, use the information against them, say that they're weak. It's just feeding into the same formula.

Steve:

Then there's a few brave, wise leaders, and it's beginning to emerge and it's coming out in the science and the research that the whole brain is necessary for great leadership. And you get leaders that then step out and step into that space. And they lead and they engage people and they let them fail and learn, they call it fail forward now, they call it the training, letting people fail forward into new learning and innovation. Bringing diverse groups together, it's easy to collaborate when you're with the homogeneous group, but you take a diverse group, it takes a lot longer to get to a place of functioning. Who wants to take the time to get there when you're in a hurry to show results. So leaders have got to be willing to step out and allow followers to push on them, to test them, to see if they really believe in this new kind of leadership that they're bringing forward.

Charlie:

Yeah, I think that's a really good answer, identifying creativity as an integral element in leadership. But from our point of view in the school of art, it kind of goes without saying, our issues are a little bit different. We are a collection of makers, studio practitioners, and our practices are based on trial and error and adaptivity and iterative, and we're used to work arounds and coming up with alternative solutions when one solution isn't working. We have that culture, we're in possession of a culture, in lots of ways has stood as well in this crisis, going back to the pasta makers and the glass pipes and all the at-home kits that faculty were putting together for students so they could work away from our studios. That creativity was in abundance.

Charlie:

Where maybe we face a little bit of a different problem than what Steve might be referring to or what might be going on in the more traditional academic areas on campus is our need is to harness that creativity in some way, to take all those people flying in different directions and help them establish a sense of collectivity, of collective purpose, of collective response to the situation that we were facing in the spring and that's ongoing.

Charlie:

Not that we want everyone to be on the same page, we embraced that variety is a strength, that diversity as a strength. That diversity not just of media and all the different things that we teach in the school, but diversity of intellectual approach, conceptual approach. It stood us very well but the difficulty as a leader, the challenge as a leader has been to arrive at consensus in the midst of all that diversity. Consensus on certain policies about how we're going to conduct our classes, consensus about the most effective modality for teaching a given discipline. It's been interesting. I've never believed more strongly that the culture that you move into the crisis with is the culture that sort of determines the response to the crisis. If we have a strong sense of community, if we have good communication, if we have a sense of transparency and fairness in the school moving into the difficult situation, then it seems like we're much better prepared for the unforeseen, the sorts of things that a crisis like this is going to throw at you.

Jolie:

I think one of the things you're both talking about is in some ways, and this has come up in other conversations this season in talking about the pandemic, is that it has created certain opportunities by throwing us off our well entrenched habits, right? And it's forced those in positions of authority, teachers in classrooms, directors of departments or schools to acknowledge and to have to model adaptability, creativity, a willingness to say, "Yep, I got that wrong. Okay, let's regroup." And then that becomes empowering for those, whether your students or it's the members of that department, school community to say, "Oh, I see my leader modeling this thing, okay, I can try and fail too." Because I think a lot of times what happens is we say we want our students to be creative, to take risks, but then we, in the position of authority, actually don't really demonstrate our own flexibility and willingness to take risks. It's like, "Well, I've had this assignment, I know how it works, I'm going to keep doing it this way." And this moment has made that really impossible in ways that are kind of freeing at times.

Steve:

I'll just say what's empowering in that is when a faculty member partners with the students and intentionally invites the students to partner with them in finding a new solution and saying, "Let's figure this out together." Students have been super helpful.

Jolie:

Yeah, they know things that we don't, right? And they often really do have an understanding of how to make better use of digital environments, of other ways of communicating and connecting. That can be really transformative.

Steve:

You start a class, you open a Zoom and you say, "Who can help me monitor the chat room?" And so if someone says, "Oh, I'll do that." And so they help you monitor the chat room and then I'll say, "Can you all summarize what's going on in the chat?" And then I say, "Can someone else do this here, and kind of help us pull up a screen and we'll create a collective document that we're going to work in." And someone will say, "I'll do that." And then so while they're doing that I'm focusing on this and we together are doing the class.

Charlie:

It's almost a cliche by now that we're not going back to the way things were before the pandemic, but we're also recognizing a lot of opportunity in that. The adaptations we've made, the flexibility we've demonstrated, the fact that we can offer content now in multiple modalities with different kinds of tools that faculty don't necessarily have to be present on campus, that they can be at home in a more flexible environment. Some of our faculty are actually in other countries, we have one faculty member teaching full-time from Canada right now, and another faculty member teaching full-time from Italy. They're both engaged in research projects at the same time that they're teaching and doing service. The kinds of technological bridges that we've been able to make, the kinds of technological structures we've been able to make are allowing a kind of flexibility and fluidity on the part of faculty that is unprecedented, we've never been in this kind of situation before.

Charlie:

We've also found that students who maybe are shy when they're in face-to-face critiques, unwilling to talk because one or two people are taking over conversations, we're finding it's much more democratic when they're online, that some of those shy students are speaking up. And actually some of the conversations that we're having around the work are more engaged, more robust than what we experienced in the face-to-face classrooms.

Jolie:

Yeah, there really is. In some ways there's a kind of leveling of some of those power dynamics in that move to the two dimensional screen where everyone could be a stakeholder and they can choose what kind of role that is, whether it's through the chat or speaking. I have a question for you, Charlie, about kind of your own work as an artist. How have you been impacted by this move and what is your working life like?

Charlie:

Like every artist I know, I've had shows canceled, opportunities that would have happened are not going to happen. In some cases canceled, in some cases postponed. So on a professional level, the pandemic's had a big impact just on the art world and the number of shows that are taking place, and the attendance at exhibitions, and galleries have had to close, museums have had to close. This sort of circulation that we take for granted in the art world has really been impaired, really been reduced. But when it comes to sort of daily working practice, and I try to work in my studio just about every day, when it comes to that, that has really been a source of strength through all of this. The idea that I'm going and doing this thing, making my work, even making progress in my work, feeling like the work has a different kind of meaning, a different kind of importance even due to the pandemic, due to the situation that's created by it, that's been really important. That's been really important.

Charlie:

That's been a source of, I don't know if it sounds like the right word, but solace or comfort, or maybe a better way to say it is centering. It's giving me a kind of a kind of groundedness that allows me to deal with the hyper fluidity of the situation. And I've talked to other studio artists, studio based artists who have said the same thing, that they've never felt more connected to their practice. I'm talking about the actual going to the studio, make the work, the actual execution of the work. They've never felt more connected to that than they have during this situation.

Steve:

And I would that for me, it's kind of interesting, I've yearned for that more because in my position and some of the things I've chosen to do, I have spent more time really busily holding the huddles and the other types of things. And I've noticed some of my friends have had that ability like you're talking about, and I've kind of yearned for that. I almost want to take some time to not be doing all these collaborative things.

Charlie:

That is your craft though, right Steve? You're a facilitator. You're a conversation sponsor. You're an expert at it, that's what you do. So in a way, you're exercising your craft, you're practicing your craft in a similar sort of way.

Jolie:

Well, and I think what that also points out too, is this moment makes in some ways more visible, all of the different human needs we have. This gets back to your point earlier, Steve, about kind of the whole student, right? We have to understand their material needs. We have to understand their spiritual needs. We have to understand all of that before we could really get to the intellectual. But it also, I think, for us as professionals, this has sort of made us realize, "Oh, I need more alone time." Or, "I desperately need more connection, that I'm feeling very alone and I need my colleagues. I need my relationships." And sort of forcing all of us to kind of identify, what are our individual needs for success? And if we recognize that, then we're in a better position to actually help our students and those we work with to similarly say, "Okay, what do you need to really feel successful, centered, balanced, able to do your best work?"

Charlie:

I guess what I would try to connect what we've just talked about to is the notion that, I see as one of my responsibilities is leader of the School of Art is to remind people, to urge people, to do everything I can to assist people in finding a sense of, I don't know if this is a word, but purposefulness, purpose in what they're doing. Because the pandemic has shifted, in all kinds of ways, not least of which is traditional outcomes for our work. For my studio practice, the places that I would normally be showing it. It's availability to people, and true for all the faculty. A lot of that has been taken away, and we don't know when it's going to come back and it's certainly not going to come back in the manner that it existed before.

Charlie:

But if you think about how that impacts students, we have students who are aspiring to be artists, students who are learning to be creators who want to succeed on a professional level. They're looking at the radical restructuring of the world that they thought they were entering, right? And it may even mean that some professional opportunities are closed off temporarily or shifted in different directions. So in the face of that sort of chaotic situation right now, the face of that unsettledness, it's more important than ever for students and faculty to remind themselves, what is this really about? What is this about at a deeper level? Why are you making work? Why are you putting so much effort into something that doesn't have the obvious outcomes anymore, and may not have the professional visibility that it had before? It really becomes about the work, I guess is what I'm saying.

Jolie:

About process, right? But it's about the process, right? Rather than the outcome.

Jolie:

What were you going to say, Steve?

Steve:

It's both in the sense that, there's a great book you may be aware of it's, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Charlie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), of course.

Steve:

And in that he describes people in Nazi war camps, completely healthy people died. Yet there were these other folks in the camps that weren't healthy, that were injured, and they survived. And he was trying to figure out as a medical doctor, how to help more people survive. And he said, one of the telltale signs that people were about to die was that they gave away their cigarettes, which was their currency in the camp. And what he found was that the people that survived regardless of their physical condition were the ones that had purpose, they had some work to continue. In the arts, they had an artistic project or book to write or something to complete, or they had something that they were living for, that they still had... They were yearning for, something that they yearned to complete and finish.

Steve:

And it was people who had that. So switch it to this. So I, with my students always ask them, "What difference do you yearn to make in the world? What is your profession, your career, your job that you're going to go after that matters to you, where you're going to feel a sense of purpose? How is this class and how is what we're doing going to serve you in going for that?" And I find that in this situation, if I can keep my students focused on the prize on the thing that they yearn for, in the midst of this it helps them to deal with the pressures. And if they're in community sharing that, that's the other piece, it's this community of support is critical. If anything I learned in this is that we have got to create small communities of learning, communities of support, build them, create them, start them amongst the faculty, amongst the students, amongst students and faculty, administrators, but we need to be in communities supporting each other.

Jolie:

We're going to take a quick break. Thanks for listening to the BiG Ideas podcast.

Musical Interlude:

Question, answer, discussion.

Announcer:

If you are passionate about BiG Ideas, consider sponsoring this program. To have your name or organization mentioned here, please contact us at ics@bgsu.edu.

Jolie:

Hello, welcome back to the BiG Ideas podcast. Today I'm talking to Dr. Steve Cady and Professor Charlie Kanwischer about leadership during crisis, and what we've learned about online instruction and communication. We've been talking about the importance of communication and collaboration, what are some of the factors you see that impede true collaborative leadership at the university level or in large organizations and institutions?

Charlie:

Well, the first words that popped into my mind were bureaucracy and budget. I don't know, the interrelatedness of those two things. Sponsoring interdisciplinary work, sponsoring collaborative work, it can be expensive. Asking the university to allow two faculty members to teach a single class and not simply double up the class, there's a cost to that. And you have all these sort of administrative structures and disciplinary structures that they just function better when everybody stays between the lines. When you're trying to cross over, when you're trying to work in between, lots of times the bureaucracy doesn't know how to categorize it, it doesn't know how to evaluate it, it doesn't know how to measure the outcomes that emerged from it. Most of the structures we have at the university are set up for measuring discrete things, categorizable things, and anything that seems to want to resist that or move outside of that. It can be difficult to do that if not even opposed.

Steve:

Yeah, and I would offer... My favorite African proverb is, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others." And there's a really good book out that's called Going Fast and Slow, and it talks about the brain and the brain science of decision-making and how people think. And you got your executive function, and then you got your instinctive portion of your brain, instinctive function, and the fight and flight, and those kinds of things. They call it system one and system two in this particular book. Actually it's interesting, you got the left and the right and the front and the back of the brain. And if you think about it, the back is about instinct, the front is about thinking and reflection and so forth, and slowing down. The left side of the brain is about order, logic, and the right side is about creativity.

Steve:

And so now you've got all these different parts of the brain that are engaged, and the biggest impediment is that people sometimes don't want to engage the whole brain. So they don't want to take the time, they want to go fast and therefore people want to go alone. Yet in order to go fast and to go with others, but to go alone, the only way you can go alone with others fast is through dictation, to dictate, to direct, to force, to coerce, to make the decision and put in place the mechanisms to force people to do it. That's the only way you can do that. And then you can maybe get people to move fast because we're in that school system structure that we've trained people for many, many years to sit in rows and aisles, listen when talked to, and move quickly based on the edict that has been given out. There's a lot of other impediments, but I would describe that as a core impediment that gets in the way of true collaboration.

Jolie:

Well, and that's the thing, that there are certain things that are happening fast, right? That we may have to react quickly, but what you're suggesting is if we really want to make these changes transformative and meaningful, then you're going to have to be willing to slow down, to listen to other people, to take time, to try and adjust. And it's going to be less linear, and that may be in the short-term frustrating, but in the long-term, you'll get further with it.

Steve:

What does slowing down mean? I'm slowing down right now. I'm only taking five seconds. I take a breath, I've slowed down. I can slow down in a half hour. It doesn't mean slowing down for months. It's painful to slow down. So if I move and act quickly, it's like, "Let's get this over with, let's get this over with..." And you watch a brilliant athlete who can just move and you think, "How do they do that so elegantly?" So I think there's a notion that fast means everything's right now and slow means everything's way out there. But actually you can move too fast in one day or too fast in five seconds. It's about how we slow down our thinking, slow down our presence, presencing and noticing, and slowing ourselves down for that situation as appropriate and moving at a pace that still keeps us moving forward.

Jolie:

One of the things we've seen with the pandemic is that existing socioeconomic and racial disparities have gotten much worse, right? And this is on the economic front, on the health front and the infection rates, death rates and the economic impact. So it can be hard to sort of talk about those intersectional dimensions in the work that we do, but how do you address the ways in which not only are some communities more impacted, but also some have greater voice? How do you ensure everyone gets a say and is heard, and that decisions are made with them in mind and with their shaping that, again, getting back to the fast and slow, when not everyone even has equal access to the conversation?

Charlie:

Well, that's been a hard problem because you're caught in this bind. You don't want to overburden people with communication. You have to know when to communicate and when not to communicate, and you have to have some discernment about what's important enough to communicate and what might not be so important that you might just be bothering people with too much communication. So I view it as one of the most important characteristics you can have as a leader is that sense of proportionality, what I called discernment a moment ago. When is it necessary, and in the interest of the people you're communicating with, to communicate with them? And what can I take on? What can I relieve them of? What sort of burden can I take off of them?

Charlie:

I think it goes back to the notion too, that inside of a entity, an organization like a school of art, you have to have pretty good governance structures and that means we have an advisory council of the leadership in the school that meets with me every week. And then we have regular faculty meetings and the separate divisions in the side of the school are required to meet regularly. So that throughout these governance structures, people feel free to share and to speak up and not only do ideas flow up to me, but they also flow down from me to everybody in the school.

Charlie:

I feel pretty good about the way that we've communicated with faculty. Of course, it's students, I think, that are more difficult to communicate with in this situation. We don't have good communication channels in the school right now for getting information out to students collectively. At the height of the pandemic back in spring, I was making fairly regular, consistent messages to the students through email, and even through video, trying to let them know what was going on. That's tapered off though through the summer and into the fall, I was getting feedback from students that email isn't really an effective way to communicate. Some of those emails had to be long, almost by necessity. And that certainly tuned students out pretty quickly when they see a long email, they're already ready to delete it. I had some experiments with putting together a sort of student council, a representative group from across the school that I would meet with regularly, but that was kind of sidetracked by the pandemic and the inability to get together.

Charlie:

So that remains a challenge, how we communicate with students, how we let them know what's going on inside the school. And then more to the point that you we're making, how we recognize who in our communities, of both students, faculty, and staff too, who's vulnerable, who needs that extra communication, who needs that reach out, that extra level of connection? Maybe it's not going to everybody, it doesn't have to be a blanket email, but I'm finding ways to have regular meetings with people who I know are at some sort of risk. And I am, by the way... See, I am seeing that, I am seeing the stress take different kinds of forms for faculty and staff that are really having an impact on their health.

Jolie:

Yeah, and I think, by the same token, figuring out how to build processes, not only to communicate to those communities, but also for them to learn from them, right? So my final question for each of you is, what bit of advice, or what would you like to see around thinking differently about practices and principles of leadership learning from this moment? Charlie, what do you want to take away? What have you learned or what do you want others in leadership positions to learn from this moment about how to better lead?

Charlie:

It's a great question and a very hard question to answer. I guess I would begin with... What you want to recognize, I think in any communication that comes from leadership is a kind of empathy, a kind of acknowledgement of the difficulty of the situation that you're in. But it has to be empathy that's based on particularity, if it's so generalized and if it's repetitive, if it's always the same phrasing, if it's always the same points being made, if you're always using the same vocabulary, what that's signaling to me is that you're not thinking about the particular qualities of your audience, the particular lived experience of your audience. That might require extra communication or more customized communication, sort of what we were just talking about with Steve, but I think it actually goes in the opposite direction if you don't engage in that sort of thing. It becomes a kind of perception that the leadership that's communicating with you is, it was kind of communicating through a template.

Charlie:

We talked about industrial scaled education, industrial scaled content delivery, there's industrial scale communication as well. And I think when you're communicating to a diverse community, a very heterogeneous community, everybody doing something different, having different sorts of experiences, that kind of more homogenous communication is off-putting, it can actually do more damage, I think, than benefit.

Jolie:

What about for you, Steve? What would you like listeners to take away when they think about leadership roles and how to be more effective?

Steve:

I think believe in the power and the wisdom of the group, individually and collectively to trust and believe that people will make better decisions together than you can. If you think you can make a better decision than the group you've lost your group.

Charlie:

I think that's a nice, succinct way of really describing what I was trying to get at in my statement, Steve. I think out of empathy is an acknowledgement of solidarity and an acknowledgement that you're all in it together and that others may have ideas that benefit the collective. And if you imagine that you've got all the answers or that this is all on you to solve, you lose the group right away.

Jolie:

I think that's a great place to end. So thank you both so much for this conversation. Listeners can keep up with ICS by following us on Twitter and Instagram @icsbgsu and on our Facebook page. You can listen to BiG Ideas wherever you find your favorite podcasts, please subscribe and rate us on your preferred platform. Our producers are Chris Cavera and Marco Mendoza, with sound editing by Marco Mendoza. Research assistance was provided by Kari Hanlin.

Musical Outro:

Discussion.

Share | Download(Loading)