by Hendrik Jan van Es. First published 7-Oct, 2020. Reprinted with permission
When COVID19 eats into your bottom line, is this only a threat? Or is it possible to convert threats into new opportunities? What do you think?
A real life example:
It is about a financially healthy company with a culture based on trust. Like many companies, COVID-19 impacted their turnover negatively, bringing them to a crossroads of decision-making. The most traditional response would be to let go of a part of their employees. A solution pushed for by their investors, who did this for the obvious reasons to preserve profitability and, with that, the value of their investment.
When executing this, they would certainly not be the only ones taking this path.
For this company’s conscious leadership, who had built a culture of transparency and trust for years, having to let go of several valued people felt bad. A leader must have the capacity though to make painful decisions. How you feel about it is not part of the equation. Or is it?
Leadership and emotions
When a decision feels bad for the leadership, who have the bigger picture, including the shareholders’ perspective, it is probably even more intense for the direct colleagues. Letting go of people in unpredictable times would destroy the trust carefully built over the years. A trust that had helped them during recent presentations showing a confident and connected team that much impressed their potential clients.
Letting go was not an option if they wanted to continue on their path of growing into an increasingly conscious and successful company. In a transparent and participatory process, the team came up with a different solution.
Some key personnel that were not needed on current projects gave them space to work on a product that would open an adjacent new market. One that would potentially be as big as the market they are currently successful in.
To counter the investors’ primary response, the leadership developed and presented a plan to access this new market. To ensure success, they asked for an extra investment to build the infrastructure and sales team needed.
The confidence, energy and excellent plan the whole team had worked on convinced the investors in the end to do the opposite of what they proposed.
Focusing on new opportunities and shared enthusiasm instead of following old fashioned fear-based responses strengthened the trust and team connections. Instead of having a broken company where everyone would fear for their job, the new approach released a lot of positive, shared goal energy. The results are yet to be seen, but the contrast between the two scenarios is like day and night.
Does this change your answer to my question: Is it possible to convert threats into new opportunities?
And this is only one outcome. There are more that will activate and organization instead of breaking it. I know of more examples and since every organization is unique they will come up with their own.
Taking steps like these needs conscious leadership with the ability to see opportunities where others only see problems. Conscious leaders use creativity and strength to mobilize teams; use inclusive and participatory means to create resilient and innovative plans, embody and raise their team’s confidence and energy, and show decisiveness to convince shareholders who might have differing views.
These leadership qualities are especially needed in challenging and stressful times when it becomes increasingly difficult to stay open and see other opportunities. Conscious Leaders aren’t born; they become that by learning and practice. Growing into such a leader is something that can be trained. We all have the potential. The question is, how much of your full potential do you actually use?
Performance = potential -/- interference
We all experience interference and things that block us from being our full selves. These can be measured and addressed to grow into a conscious leader building, a high performing company also in times of crises.
If this has set the cogs working and you want to explore further contact the Hendrik Jan van Es or add your comments below.