Can the sum of a row of many victories over many years be defeat?General Löwenhielm in Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast
New customers! More revenue! Huge ROI!
Immediate, positive results are attractive and addictive. It’s easy to understand why: People get praise from their bosses. The current market rewards quarterly capitalism with most investments currently being held somewhere between four and eight months—a big change from the average holding of over eight years during the 1960s.1 And, many people’s jobs depend on these immediate results.
These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose,—a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.Robert Walton in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Talk of pivoting is popular. But, most companies don’t have a place to pivot from.1
When a company only chases profits or market share, they only have the whims of the market to anchor their business. And, when those whims change, their anchors get dislodged and they have to scramble for a new spot to give them stability.
It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then your don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.Terry Pratchett1
As humans, we have the tendency to do what we have always done. What we have always done works, to some degree. But, what we have always done is not the best we are capable of being.
Over time, we develop ways of behaving and reacting. These ways are habitual because they served us at some point, in some situation. And, they are often unconscious: it’s just the way we do things. Yet, often these types of behaviors are not suited for the situations we employ them in.
We get caught up in the constant struggle to keep doing, instead of engaging in the practice of consistently becoming better.
Last week, we wrote an in-depth guide to leading during a crisis—how they affect an organization and strategies to get through them. The advice also applies to any business situation involving a major change as, at their core, that’s what crises are: situations of significant change.
One of the keys to navigating a crisis—or a big change—is what organizational psychologist Edgar Schein calls adaptive moves. In Schein’s words:
By calling them “adaptive,” I am emphasizing that they are not solutions to “the problem” but actions intended to improve the situation and elicit more diagnostic data for the planning of the next move. By calling them “moves,” I am again emphasizing that they are small efforts to improve the situation, not grand plans or huge intervention.1
Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.James Lane Allen1
We can’t tell you how you should react or how your company should behave during a crisis. Every company is different and so is every leader. What’s right for one isn’t right for another.
There’s no one “correct” response
Despite there being no universal way to lead during a crisis, there are strategies you can employ that will allow you to adapt and ignite your leadership style to effectively navigate crises and other situations that involve change.
When times get difficult, leaders tend to take on burdens greater than they can carry alone. But, this is an impossible situation. In order to achieve anything great in an organization, you need a team to help you get there.
Here are five ways to enable your team to help you achieve your organization’s goals.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
Real leadership is value-driven, based on principles such as humility, accountability, positivity, and love. Here are eight principles for a more humanistic approach to leadership:
Embody Values:Values determine what types of behaviors are in line with your company’s purpose that will help you achieve your vision. Values can never be given up. They guide you in good times and in tough times. They determine what you are and what you are not. Living up to your values protects you from cynics.
One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment.Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning
With the world battling against a pandemic, we’re also fighting against fear and uncertainty. Under these circumstances, it can be hard to find inspiration and have clarity about how to act. And, that’s understandable.
As bleak as the situation may currently seem, a crisis creates the opportunity fo become a better leader. And, that makes me optimistic for the future of business.
A vision gives you clarity on what you should and shouldn’t do. It forces you to stand for something instead of being for everyone. And, it gives you the confidence to make those decisions: when you have a vision you believe in, you’ll have the emotional wherewithal to fight for what’s best for the organization over the long-term, not just today.
Having a vision isn’t just about trying to achieve the vision. It’s about turning your company into the type of organization that has the potential to achieve the vision.
Every move a company makes sends a message to its customers and employees. A decision you make today may benefit your company right now. But, you also have to ask: is it the right move for the long-term goals of the company?
What you do today determines the type of organization you can become tomorrow.
Without a vision, it’s impossible to determine how today’s decisions will contribute to the future. The vision allows you to ask: Does this decision push the organization further towards that ultimate goal? Does it change nothing over the long-term? Does it only benefit the organization today, making it harder to get back on track to achieve the long-term goals?