I am pretty sure that not a single person reading this expected to be in this exact position as we enter the second quarter of 2020.
Change has been thrust upon all of us and the sheer magnitude and escalation of those changes has left many business leaders scrambling and not knowing what to do.
Following hundreds of conversations these last few weeks, I have seen people take one, or a combination of any of the three following behaviors and in many cases, keep bouncing between the three:
Albeit I have no precise formulae for the perfect cocktail of thinking during these times, I believe the leaders that are astutely aware of the need to operate across all three of these areas will be the ones that maintain a strong and level footing.
Let me explain a little more about what I mean…
It’s quite possible that taking a low profile, allowing the dust to settle and distancing yourself from the current realities can provide you with the very space and free thinking to help you navigate your next move. Reacting irrationally has the potential for many of causing more harm than good, and taking the moments to reflect, review and refine your future plans allows you to act with intention and less reaction.
I vividly remember a bar chat with my dear friends’ Tom and Tamsin Webster in which Tom quoted “it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese” – maybe it’s ok to be the second mouse.
With business revenues demonstrably changing from the status quo and leaders finding themselves frantically trying to operate within their new normal, it’s quite normal for the human genetic code to kick in and to move quickly into fight or flight. This has been the default position of the many as they slash overheads, put the brakes on all future plans and hunker down like they are burying themselves underground during an air strike.
Yes, being able to go the distance during this current situation is a necessity, but scarring the relationships of your teams and partners will almost certainly leave you with far less of a company when you come out the other side. For survival mode to generate the desired results, consider playing the long game properly, and ensure you protect all your assets, not just your P&L. As the brilliant Bob Burg has repeatedly stated – be a Go-Giver.
The second you hit the bottom you are given the opportunity of bouncing. This bounce is your chance to take a giant step forward and grasp an opportunity that is created in the chaos. In times of crisis, speed is often the most impactful factor and you simply being days or moments ahead of your competition can have seismic effects on the outcome.
Perhaps it’s the development of a new product or service offering that is now essential for this new-normal, perhaps it’s the chance to secure long-term better pricing from an essential supplier, perhaps an acquisition of a smaller company or potential new team member – whatever it is – know that when a market is moving it creates both challenge AND opportunity.
In Jeremy Gutsche’s 2009 Book – Exploiting Chaos – he reminded us that that Hewlett Packard, Disney, Hyatt, MTV, CNN, Microsoft, Burger King, and GE all started during periods of economic recession. The foresight of a further decade on from this gives us the wisdom that many current heavyweight companies were founded or expanded at that exact same time.
Regardless of the choices you make through these times, understand that every choice you make is a choice that you make. There is no right, and no wrong – only consequences.