Updated: Dec 10, 2020
This is a difficult time, but it is also the right time to reflect, reevaluate and reposition.
The pandemic storm continues to roil all around us. Much is different, the status quo is no more. Leaders at all levels are attempting to steer their teams and organisations in unchartered waters with minimal visibility. We have found that most if not all leaders have never had to contend with a crisis of this complexity, reach and impact before. The storm continues to uncover unknowns after the unknown.
Some companies will see surviving this period as a win, keeping their head above water as enough and that is very understandable. Yet, merely still existing, once the storm has passed will not be sufficient to help you win in the longer term. Focusing on simply surviving will limit your potential to come out of this period better than you were heading into it as a leader and as an organisation.
Your leadership intention will drive what your team places its attention on. It is worth pausing to see what is informing your intention at this moment. The imperative now is to take the time to reflect, reevaluate and reposition. Reach for better.
A.B.L (Always Be Learning)
Despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them, this period of disruption is an incredible time for learning. Those who are using this time for such learning are likely to emerge from this pandemic as the ultimate winners. During times of adversity we learn most about our environments, ourselves and those around us. By now you should have even greater clarity around your team. It should be clear who you can depend on and what relationships are strong. Distinguish which team members are playing it safe versus those that consistently pull on the jersey and aim to leave it in a better place. More importantly, as a leader, how are you showing up?
Ask yourself, if you are not learning now, should you be on the pitch? While that may appear harsh, the reality is that the decisions you are making now will ultimately have significant consequences for both your own future and the future of others. If you are not reflecting and learning now, you will struggle to reevaluate and reposition your team and your organisation. The learnings that manifest from this period will propel you out of it. In fact, you are likely to look back on this period as a particularly defining time for your own leadership.
Leveraging the Collective Leadership Brain
Your leadership, and that of your leadership community, has never mattered more. Are you observing behaviours that will lead your team out of this crisis or behaviours that will limit recovery and the ability of your team to move forward? The most likely scenario is that you are seeing aspects of both as you progress through the different phases of this pandemic.
The more progressive leaders I work with have a mindset of curiosity and a forward-facing outlook that seeks out and acts upon what lies beyond the bend ahead to new horizons. These leaders regularly reimagine the potential of the team required to lead their organisation to these places. Right now, are you being all that you can be or is uncertainty, and possibly even fear, locking you into a safe and predictable pattern?
Now is not the time to play safe. Now is the time for leadership teams to empower their communities to perform. To ask of them to act and interact in a selfless manner and to lead in ways that will secure a better future for customers, employees, and society. One of the freedoms we have right now is the choice we make in how we respond to this crisis.
While you may well be reimagining future ways of working for your employees or even how you will manage to conduct your business, it is worth asking yourself:
Are you reacting to trending information coming at you?
Have you deliberately taken a step back to find perspective and plan an appropriate response to your context? And if so, are you committing to seeing that through knowing that you can course correct if required?
Going Beyond the ‘Survival’ State
In a recent interview, Jim Hagemann Snabe, Chairman at Siemens AG, said companies must leap into a better future, rather than to return to how things were before.
Not all industries have been affected in the same way or to the same degree. In fact, some have seen growth during this time. Either way, this period is significant for all. Perspectives will differ, some leaders will feel they just need to hang on in there while others will be stronger or significantly different coming out the other side. While survival might be your focus, having it as an exclusive focus may limit your capacity to identify opportunities, let alone capitalise on them.
Purposeful reflection takes time. It is important to make that space for your team to reimagine the status quo and broaden the horizon, even if you can’t always see that in the moment. This practice can assist you and your teams to unearth people’s vulnerabilities and challenge unhelpful assumptions while at the same time opening you and your team up to new perspectives and possibilities.
Here is a snapshot of some of the themes and questions we are currently working through with leaders and their teams to answer:
I. In reimagining the future of your business, what is up for consideration and what can you identify as the likely game changers?
II. Does your team have clarity and agreement around the critical controllables? How do you refresh this clarity to ensure that you are poised to win the moment and the next one and even the one after that?
III. Do you have a plan to secure the sustainability of your business, yourself, and your team? All are equally important.
IV. Are you aware of what the current mindset of your leadership team is? Are confidence levels in a sound place, or has the toll of the current situation adversely impacted on how your leaders are showing up?
Are these or other factors impacting your leadership team’s ability to harness forward momentum?
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If you are a CEO or a senior leader and you would like to have a confidential conversation, or a sparring partner on any of the issues raised here, please get in touch. We love a good problem!