THE LEADER MUST BE THE CALM WHEN THERE IS WIND.
AND THE WIND WHEN THERE IS CALM.
When you have calmed yourself and your team, and stabilised your organisational life support systems, get ready to set a new course.
It is time for the leader to be the wind in the organisational sails again.
"Use your purpose and values as the North Star that guides your direction."
I believe there are three guiding principles to setting a new course in these rapidly changing conditions:
1. Ensure you have a responsible PURPOSE and positive values.
This will be a ticket to the new game.
Changing attitudes to equality and sustainability are almost certainly going to be accelerated by our recent experience. If your organisation is careless about the environment, your people, your suppliers or are perceived as “anti society” you will pay the price.
And it’s not just your customers that will judge you. Your own people will want to work for an organisation that matches the new societal values. If your organisation plays an important role in society, now is the time to bring that to the fore and demonstrate that it is more than rhetoric. Fulfil the role and live your organisational purpose. Make your people proud to work here.
"If the external narrative of your organisation or industry is not positive, don’t blame customers and society for not understanding you."
In addition to a clear responsible purpose, you need positive organisational values. Use your values as the cultural integrity and driving force for all of your decisions.
External perceptions of your brand are the result of the culture you foster internally. If the external narrative of your organisation or industry is not positive, don’t blame customers and society for not understanding you. Look at the leaders and the culture internally and start focusing on positive values.
As an organisation, stop trying to see your future destination. As with our personal life journey, you can’t see the end from the beginning.
Now, more than ever, your culture will matter more than your strategy. Use your purpose and your values as the North Star that guides your direction.
Follow that and get moving!
2. Be the leader your PEOPLE need now.
More than anything your people will look for authenticity. They want someone who really cares about them and their customers. A leader who focuses on doing the right thing even in adversity. A leader who engages them fully and throughout.
To engage goes much further than to communicate. To me, it means to:
- inspire hope and commitment to the common cause.
- influence people to commit discretionary effort.
- make people feel fully connected to the leader and the team.
Are you achieving this? You should be doing this whether your team are working or furloughed. Or, are you flattering yourself that you communicate well because you call them once a week and hold weekly video meetings?
Engage, engage, engage.
3.Drive the PACE to make things better for your customers.
Drive the pace of your organisation to fulfil your customers’ needs faster and more effectively than you are achieving right now. Nothing works the way it used to. Stop bemoaning that and find a new way. Adapt to your changed circumstances. Be innovative. If you can, engage your team to rethink how you can meet customer needs in new ways. If you don’t, your customers will find someone else who can, find an alternative or conclude that they can live happily without your services.
"The organisation needs you to inject energy into the system. Use customer needs as your call to arms."
Your team may be operating from home, some may be furloughed, all may be furloughed. Regardless, you need to be changing or preparing to change.
You are the leader. The organisation needs you to inject energy into the system. Use customer needs as your call to arms. Make it your mission to get your organisation moving now. Do not wait until lockdown is over to start thinking about it.
We will soon pass from a health crisis into an economic one.
Only the innovative, the prepared and the customer obsessed will prosper.
Don’t think you can navigate your way back to where you were before. The old “safe harbour” has been swept away. We are all in uncharted waters. You need to learn new ways and that has to start now.
For part one of this blog click here.