We live in a world where change is happening in every single area of activity we have. It is the “new normal”. Everything keeps changing: customer behaviours, technology and how it is used by traditional competitors or newcomers, distribution channels and almost anything you could mention. It has become a recurrent challenge to lead and operate our companies. And the speed of change increases every day. Stronger skills of leadership are required to face this trend, regardless if you are an entrepreneur or a leader in a corporation. Let’s face it: The world has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us in unimaginable ways and business leaders are no exception. What does it take to be an effective leader in the current crisis? So these are the seven tips:
Have a vision: Make sure you spend time defining the vision, the destination of your organization. Even reserve some hours in your diary to specifically do it. Traditionally, this was created at the top and cascaded down. Today it is about co-creation. Involve your team, customers, and other stakeholders. Incorporate the opportunities of a digital world to it. Creating the vision should be your priority and it should deliver the outcome in a short-term period. It is the cornerstone for your leadership. It will become the reference when in doubt. It will allow you to adjust faster when needed if it is clearly stated.
Communicate: As a leader, there is never enough communication. It is the first step to have an engaged team. Make every channel and every moment an opportunity to share and to listen. Do it consistently internally and externally when required. Plan it well and prepare to excel when delivering the message. Ask: “what do you think?” to learn quicker from the views that others could have. Great communication will save time and will drive consistency across your business and externally with customers and investors.
Leverage the power of your team: A vision is nothing without the right team to implement it. The leader has to be the first coach of the team. Recruit, develop and change each person of the team to secure the best person possible in every job. The action most leaders regret is not having put the right team earlier taking bold decisions. Understand also what motivates each of them. It will make easier to align objectives with ambitions. Bring new talent and create a diverse team. Diversity is the best way to enrich your organization.
Build a customer obsessed organization: Spend as much time as you can with customers. Learn from them: why they buy from you, what you should do better and what are their challenges. It will inspire your team, allow more focused products to be built and better services to be deployed. Make a proper customer segmentation and invest time, money and resources in your best customers.
Stay focused: The sentence we hear the most from CEOs is: I don’t have enough time. Time being the scarcest resource we all have, means that we must spend it properly. Learn to say no: to customers, to the team or to suppliers. You can be tempted by exciting projects or new areas to explore which might distract you and your team. Keeping the discipline around your core will make you best in class. Be ready to partner in non-core competences or services. Check often your diary and confirm that you spend the time where you want, not where the environment is taking you.
Be the change: In a changing world, you must lead change in your organization. Be curious about new players in the market, learn about what your strongest competitors are doing, and be ready to change. Become the first challenger of how you operate. “We have always done like this” is your enemy in a corporate world and “it is impossible” in the entrepreneurial sphere. This is the complement to the previous skill. Prepare to innovate, try and fail fast but with a conscious decision of those attempts.
Change is major opportunity for all businesses: Big corporations should reinvent how they will deal with customers with new profiles and demands while driving the financial performance and social contribution. Entrepreneurs must differentiate and continuously reflect what is their core value proposition to attract investors and develop ambitious growth plans and high expectations. Change is also an exciting ground for leaders which demands from each of them to perform at their best.
Individual skills training, agility in teams and leadership integrity are the three pillars of organizational resilience. Weave them into the life of your organization now, and they will see you through the next “new normal,” and the one after that.
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