In April this year, Dani Weaver, an Organisational Psychologist and Helen Bailey, MD of Aviatrix, a strategic market research consultancy, (also a Coach, Facilitator and Advisory Board Member for MDHUB), decided to venture on a research project to explore what would the leadership response be to the pandemic, the lockdown and all that has followed since.

The Mackerel Fishing research project was born, named as a perfect metaphor for the economic climate – typically swift and streamlined, a shoal of mackerel moves as one, adapting and learning from each other.

If leaders joined forces could they weather the storm better and, collectively, work towards a calm, ‘come back better’ recovery when the fish were back in the sea.

In a ‘seashell’, the project was about leaders sharing, learning and growing during a crisis.

Over 20 weeks, 88 questions were posed to the leaders that enabled them to reflect on their experience of managing their businesses during a pandemic. Within the online research community vital insights were captured as the 72 leaders shared their learnings. Each week, Dani and Helen reflected and analysed the findings and produced a summary report which highlighted the learnings and recommended actions for leading during the crisis.

Ten types of leadership behavioural indicators were measured over the
20 weeks to assess how the perception of their world would change over
time. The behavioural indicators included state of mind, strength, free-dom of choice, financial confidence, communication, motivation, certainty, hope, drive, productivity.

All behavioural indicators improved over the 20 weeks except comm-unication which saw a downward trend once the lockdown started to ease. Despite enormous efforts at the beginning of the crisis to increase communication – which was reported as producing great returns in team motivation, innovation and productivity – the first sign of life moving back to normal communication became less of a priority for leaders.

So what are the Mackerel Fishing learnings and how can they help us with what lies ahead?

Being part of a community is vital to support us in all aspects of our lives, whether this be comprised of team members, suppliers, clients, other leaders in business networks and - in a personal realm – our families and friends.

Being an active member of your community by giving and receiving is a catalyst to having insights which naturally leads to new ideas, untapped creativity, driving you and the business forward. Without an active community we are left to recycle thoughts and experiences from our past which creates more of the same and less of what we want.

•  In a nutshell, there are three sustainable circles for adapting and continually changing: Community, Communication, Creativity – all are necessary and vital for surviving and thriving.

Seven Leadership Tips  to survive and thrive

The pandemic is ONE of many enormous global challenges that leaders are in the midst of. We have the uncertainty of Brexit within months, there is a permanent shift away from the office to remote working AND the acceleration of everything moving online to name but three.

Here are Dani and Helen’s top leadership tips

1 Forget the past, comparisons to others are not relevant. Start where you are and surround yourself with a community who will help you learn, grow and agree that everything from here is progress.

Fear kills creativity: Go beyond the fear and into the art of contemplating what is possible.

Cash is king. Actively prune costs, plant ideas, and implement better processes to increase productivity and catch the waves of recovery.

People create fun. Figure out when face-to-face or being virtual is the right thing to do. Sometimes being in the company of another human will increase energy, move mountains and be fun!

Choosing a healthy space: Only we know when we need space to gather ourselves and recharge – be wise and take that space when you need it!

This is your life, live it: Leading should be fun and inspiring to others – that’s why we do it! Stop living in your head, possibilities happen when we are present to the moment and seize the opportunities.

Through the unknown, hope emerges: Hope only ever appears when you fully embrace the unknown. The intellect will never come up with a new idea but creativity fuelled by hope will move mountains. 

Helen and Dani are continuing with Mackerel Fishing and the study of leadership pragmatism and would like to invite you to join them by following this link:

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