With the Covid-19 pandemic showing little sign of abating, organisations, both large and small, are looking at an unknown future.
Business leaders face making incredibly tough and brave decisions.
And in such a fast-changing environment, speed is of the essence. There’s no room for hesitation or self-doubt. Instead, it’s about embracing risk and having the courage to adapt - even if this means challenging traditional ways of working.
For instance, a survey by Deloitte China January 2020 found 90% of companies said that it was an urgent requirement to provide their employees with remote and flexible work options.
What we’re talking about is resilient leadership - the ability to see opportunity in adversity, to have clarity of thought under pressure and to dig deep, even when reserves are thin. But it’s also about being human.
Resilience isn’t just about protecting financial health but keeping employees and customers safe. While also considering your role in delivering broader societal priorities.
To help you meet this call, consider the following criteria for delivering resilient leadership to help move your business forward.
Pause, breathe, act
For starters, it’s not about going in all gung-ho. After all, knee-jerk reactions rarely lead to successful outcomes. Remember, there’s a difference between prioritising and delaying decisions. Besides, operating in a stressful atmosphere lends itself to a scatter-gun approach. Yet in a time of crisis, you can’t afford to wait and see what works and what doesn’t.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking a moment to reflect and reconnect with your values and purpose is pausing not hesitating. It means you can then focus your energies on making decisions rooted in the broader context of your business. Remember, by knowing what you’re good at, will help you identify new revenue streams and business options far more easily and effectively.
With this in mind, here are some key questions to ask when approaching the decision-making process:
What is the most urgent issue to tackle right now?
What do we not know about the situation?
What can we influence the outcome of our decisions?
What can’t we change?
Who will this impact and how?
What are our short-term needs?
What are our long-term needs?
How will this impact on broader societal priorities?
Stakeholder’s voice is your friend.
Forget about hierarchical models - this is no time to squirrel away in a broom cupboard with a few advisors making decisions in a silo.
Don’t be afraid to ask for input from all your stakeholders - you’ll be surprised by the number of ideas you get. Also, by involving the power of the community, you can make smarter decisions and build greater resilience.
Tips to involve more people:
Use the fish-bowl method. Around a table (real or virtual) create six spaces - invite two decision-makers, two experts, and leave two slots open for revolving stakeholders.
Encourage debate and opposition. This way you can pressure test solutions.
Identify your ‘square squad’ - this is a network of advisors and mentors you can be honest with, share out-of-box ideas and blow-off steam.
Survey colleagues regularly. Create psychological safety so employees can openly share their ideas and issues without fear.
Utilise your emotional intelligence to gather together teams best placed to help you. And then trust them to execute plans.
Take the long view
Resilience is built from the ground up.
So, the best way to secure a competitive advantage and future-proof your business to build on the momentum of your short-term successes. Besides, the decisions and choices you make during the pandemic will inevitably have a knock-on effect on your business once the crisis is over. Take advantage of these.
Consider the following when developing long-term resilience:
Assess your strengths and weaknesses - these aren’t fixed but evolving.
Review your business strategy.
Assess your skills needs now and in the future.
Identify areas of potential growth or expansion.
Gather and apply data analytics and insights.
Review your IT infrastructure.
Final Thoughts -Today and not tomorrow
The biggest mistake business leaders can make right now is to take a wait and see approach. Events are moving too quickly to allow any space for caution. To keep businesses moving forward, leaders must be bold. And this means if your business model isn’t working, be brave, trust your people and change it.