In the most recent issue of Alert Diver magazine, I came across a thought-provoking article about exceptional readiness. It describes how the military trains their rescue-scuba-divers across different stages of readiness, including clinical, physical, operational and emotional readiness. As we constantly explore ways to achieve sustained resiliency and change readiness across the different functions of an organization, I wondered what leaders should emphasize to create exceptional readiness across their teams? The following priorities may be of particular importance:
Capabilities Readiness: Great leaders foster an unwavering continuous learning mindset and push their teams to always find ways to strengthen their capabilities. Throughout my career I have met too many individuals who believe that they are "done" after completing a degree, certificate or program. However, learning has to be on the daily agenda. The most successful leaders I have met over the years focus on this and find the time for their teams and themselves to develop, improve and get better. They are never done. They never stop learning. They know that when the unexpected strikes, luck favors the prepared.
Environmental Readiness: The second readiness priority is all about understanding the context and environment. Effective leaders encourage their teams to continuously assess the internal and external environmental factors and determine what drivers affect operations, processes and the organization. They remind their teams to keep an open mind and not to be afraid to challenge assumptions. Increasing environmental readiness also fosters an "innovate with purpose" mindset and encourages teams to think out of the proverbial box.
Process Readiness: Great leaders understand that day-to-day activities and business as usual activities are fluid, demand unwavering attention, a focus on details and can never be taken for granted. They instill a focus on testing every-day processes continuously- not only from a performance or service level perspective- but they test processes to fail. They encourage their teams to continuously wonder what could go wrong here, and how can we prevent it. They also know that an understanding of response protocols, playbooks and event or crisis response plans is critical. Ultimately, these leaders know that process readiness is all about practicing pressure situations, allowing their teams to build resiliency strengths to deal with unexpected scenarios.
Culture Readiness: Lastly, strong leaders understand the cultural context and how its positive and negative factors may impact overall readiness. They understand that culture is the one area most likely taken for granted or assessed as static or not changing. Great leaders encourage an exploration on how a culture may be nudged in the right direction to better prepare for change, disruption, or future opportunities. The best companies find ways to continuously improve their culture to increase their competitive advantage.
A continuous focus on improving capabilities, understanding the environmental context, testing processes, and nudging the organizational culture are all critical elements that can create exceptional readiness. As we look forward at the beginning of a new year, and assess all of the challenges and opportunities ahead, we should remind ourselves that exceptional readiness fosters resilience, comfort with change, and an overall state of mind to expect the unexpected. Simply put by William Shakespeare "All things are ready, if our mind be so.”