Leadership, as it must be, is strategic. It's to step back, see the big picture and, to the extent possible, create tomorrow in the room, today. Covid is but one piece of a chaotic and ever changing political, economic, societal, business and interconnected leadership puzzle. At the centre of all of this is 'the team' … a basic and fundamental blueprint for organisational and personal success.
What follows is intended as a practical guide for:
Setting the scene for a virtual team.
A new or established leader who needs to take the team to the next level.
The executive who feels that, as the organisation navigates the turbulent waters of change, the team is losing its impact.
The HR executive, division head or external recruitment specialist (e.g., the executive search consultant) who, in orchestrating team fit, needs to understand the team they are hiring into.
A manager or external resource faced with the challenge of coaching the team.
Combine learning-based experience, leadership reach, the ability to "think slow" and practical intelligence and you have a pretty good understanding of what "wisdom" looks like in today's business environment.
Purpose underscores why the business does what it does. Purpose on its own, however, amounts to a "why" without the "how". The framework (behavioural container) that defines the how is the organisation's values.
As the world gets faster, more complex and less stable, focus purposefully prompts the power of paradox:
Embracing the context becomes at least as important as understanding the "content" of the problem/issue.
A recent TRANSEARCH survey among C-Level leaders regarding their experiences and priorities in a shift to the "new normal" identified six key challenges:
Improving organisational agility and flexibility is seen as the major challenge during and after the pandemic.
Keeping up motivation, engagement & team spirit as well as inspiring trust are most critical for high efficiency.
Major HR challenges are to maintain efficiency despite remote work and to find top talents for transforming the company.
The current situation requires a strong focus on change processes, entrepreneurial spirit and emotional intelligence.
Companies most urgently need digitalisation experts, transformation managers and digital marketing experts.
Keeping sales performance & service levels high and the supply chain running are the major operative challenges.
TRANSEARCH provides a platform to its network of C-Level leaders for discussions on how to come out of the crisis stronger. For further information about the survey or discussion platform please get in touch with Dr. Carlo Mackrodt or Dr. Stefan Schwaenzl.
Although much still needs to be done around organisation design the way forward is clear. The organisation we need to have top of mind as we come down the mountain - enabling us to come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger - must display five qualities:
Fertile (to new ideas)
We need to add "strong" because agility without strength is fragility - to break easily. "Strength" also implies a strong balance sheet, strong values, a strong brand, strength drawn out of diversity & inclusion and a strong team at the top. Being strong also speaks to the ability, especially in the most chaotic times, to make tough decisions.
Leaders, faced with a new challenge, all too often default into what worked in the past. Our brain is wired to save energy. Faced with a new problem or challenge, the default response is to replay a past behavioural repertoire that was assumed to be successful. We have to train ourselves or be coached to see new issues in a new way (mindset), starting with letting go of what worked in the past.
The need for agility clearly isn't limited to the organisation. And leadership clearly can't simply amount to more of the same. The behaviour we celebrated in the past has to give way to a very different sense of what it means to be a leader.
Optimism, hard work and passion (PASS-Inspiration-ON) as always, are the start of it - in that the more things change, the more some things stay the same. Comfort with ambiguity, tech savvy, resilience, coaching mystery, the capacity to build great teams and cultural adaptability (work concurrently in different cultures) are clearly part of it. But leadership agility (conceptual, practical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and learning agility) is at the heart of it.
"Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" is a complementary book series, specifically aimed at enhancing how leaders respond to times of crisis.
The books cover concepts such as how to come out of this crisis stronger, culture, leadership agility and learning, what makes great teams. Also included are essential skills to enable us to start having conversations about moving forward while taking appropriate actions.