This global pandemic has affected everything and everybody to some extend over the last several weeks. It has brought out the very best in us and we witnessed incredible moments of heroism, inspirational moments of leadership, many moments of resilience, extraordinary moments of care and countless moments of compassion, thoughtfulness and love.
However, it also has tested our resilience, created extraordinary disruptions, increased levels of anxiety, resulted in incredible suffering, exhaustion as well as a lack of human and physical connection we all probably took for granted. Responding to this crisis, protecting everyone, managing the implications and preparing for a "New Normal", has been our collective focus and will continue to be for the next several months.
During these unprecedented times, I found little to no time for reflection, but the thought about "not wasting this collective moment" keeps coming up again and again. As leaders, we must step back and think about what this collective moment could mean and how to leverage our organization's and our team's resilience to implement lasting and sustainable change. Upon further reflection, I thought about how leaders may want to think about resetting, doubling-down and accelerating to take advantage of this moment in time.
RESET. What should we rethink?
Challenge the past. Every leader should challenge past practices and norms. Clearly, an obvious opportunity coming out of this crisis is to look at everything through a new lens. Questioning the status quo, past governance processes and long-established bureaucracies, will allow for a reexamination of operating models, organizational constructs and overall business strategy.
Reassess how we connect. We should reevaluate: how we connect with each other to foster a greater understanding; how we organize to build stronger organizations; and how we encourage a more proactive dialogue on how to solve problems. There is a huge opportunity to reevaluate how we bring people together, listen to their points of views and encourage different ways of collaboration.
Evolve the culture. Over time, all organizations tend to develop sub-optimal behaviors that prevent them from unleashing their culture to the fullest potential. In times of crisis, there is little tolerance for these kinds of behaviors; however, as the situation normalizes many fall back into the old way of doing things. Leaders must prevent this from happening.
DOUBLE-DOWN. What should we emphasize?
Focus on authentic leadership. This crisis is increasing the levels of anxiety for many of us, everyone is being pushed out of their comfort zones, and some teams are even paralyzed by fear, the unknown or uncertainty. Great leaders find ways to listen, are empathetic and encourage their teams to avoid being trapped in negativity and help forge a path forward.
Get ready for change. This crisis like no other has highlighted that we can take nothing for granted and that flexible and nimble firms fare much better and may even be able to leverage this crisis to change their organizations in fundamental ways. Leaders need to double-down on change readiness, instill a comfortableness with ambiguity and encourage everyone to think outside the box.
Pivot to a bigger purpose. I have written many times in the past about the importance of a clear purpose. Navigating through a crisis demands an even higher focus on direction or a North Star. The challenges ahead will be immense, but a collective purpose, which brings everyone together, can galvanize teams and propel an organization for success.
ACCELERATE. How can we move faster?
Innovate with speed. Creating space for innovation and unleashing creativity to allow teams to imagine the "New" will be supa important. This may be the best of times to try new and different approaches, fail fast or re-imagine everything we do. Great leaders find ways to accelerate this in uncertain times and remove barriers which have stifled these efforts in the past.
Transform, transform, transform. No question that there are burning platforms everywhere. Organizations will need to find ways to accelerate different transformation opportunities – ranging from automation and digitization to simplification of structures or optimizing processes. Leaders will need to focus on the quality and speed of execution while constantly assessing the emerging implications of the New Normal.
Make decisions in near real-time. Leaders must find approaches that encourage the acceleration of decision-making processes without compromising a robust risk assessment. This is a very difficult challenge and requires the right level of mix in expertise, behaviors and enabling structures. Strong leaders excel in bringing the right team together to make decisions quickly and are not afraid to revaluate decisions as needed.
As leaders we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this collective moment. Rethinking or resetting past practices, human connections and our culture, should allow us to appreciate past strengths while also finding the opportunities to change. Doubling-down on the things we do well, authentic leadership, change readiness or following our purpose, should provide clarity around the what, why and how. Accelerating could challenge us to foster creativity, focus on transformation and enable better decision-making. Let's don't let this collective moment pass by without finding ways to make the world a better place.