Over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to connect with a high percentage of our corporate clients. This is through previously scheduled sessions or ad hoc check-ins. I am gauging the leader in crisis. I have brought several messages to our clients for them to consider during these unprecedented times for businesses. What I am struck by most, is how unbelievably resilient most business owners and senior executives are that I work with. There are some exceptions, and there are a few that are in more of a crisis state than others.
Reflections on the adaptations of the leader in crisis
Two days ago, I had an extremely rich day. Back to back to back all day long except for one midday call, each CEO made me so proud. I took so much energy and enthusiasm from our calls as I picked up on so much positivity and the relentless commitment to thriving during this time. This was a particularly amazing day. Most days for me recently have included at least a couple standout CEO’s that are showing exceptional leadership. I am so proud of our client group and the resolve and resilience.
None of us could have ever pretended to know how to prepare for something like this global health pandemic. Yes, there are some obvious things like knowing that we must always have enough cash to weather the storms. However, any business consultant that now says they could have predicted this or told businesses exactly how to be prepared are just making it up.
While observing the reality though, I have been able to tease out some key things I am learning from the best leaders that I get to support and coach. There are several things that I am seeing emerge as they key qualities in each of the leaders that are leading well and handling things competently.
Qualities of a thriving leader in crisis
Their chief concern is for their people. These CEO’s of course care about more than this, but first and foremost I hear these CEO’s talking about their people. They want their people to be healthy and they want them to survive financially. One CEO had already figured out in his mind the dollar amount in millions of the various mortgages that his team covers. He threw out to me, “I am responsible for $XM in personal mortgages of my team.”
They are decisive but not reactive. These CEO’s don’t make rash decisions in reactive ways when overcome with emotion. They are not afraid to act. and they decide swiftly, but with calm and equipped with as much information as possible.
They recognize there is new opportunity. These leaders see that there is a major gift to their business in this situation. This pandemic is opening new opportunities in many ways. They know that new opportunities will emerge, and they see that it is forcing them to shift immediately in ways that they realize now they could have shifted before and been better off!
They are actively engaged in thinking, considering and planning short, medium and long-term. Good leaders can focus on and manage immediate issues, without getting too deep into the weeds, as they also need to be thinking medium and long-term. Nobody can predict with entire accuracy what the future will hold. However, I am noticing strong leaders making and defining a range of well thought out assumptions that allow them to plan.
They have already made numerous adaptations to their business related to one or more of what, why, who and how. One of my favourite comments this week was, “we have thrown out the org chart.” This may be the perfect time to completely abolish the way your company is organized. A complete re-organization, even short-term, to properly adapt.
My personal growth during these unique times
I am thrilled during this time to have the best seat in the house inside the inner workings of so many businesses. The kinds of observations I am making right now are worth more than what anyone could have taught me in a thousand books on leadership. Watching and witnessing good leadership from my vantage point is the best thing in the world. I could not be more inspired than I am right now. I am continually seeing a leader in crisis grow, stretch, and rise to the challenge. Thanks to my clients, I am learning, growing and challenged in my own leadership.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- It’s simple. Have a look at each of the five things above. Do your own assessment on where you and your business are at. A leader in crisis can thrive.
- Always, always, always consider people first. It is people you’ll need more than anything else to keep going.
- Remember the significance of the current new market reality has changed everything. This means many elements of your most recent strategy may now be stale. Get your team together and engage in strategic thinking. You and your team should collectively do more strategic thinking next week than you did in all of 2019!