Leading BEFORE times of crisis and uncertainty

Updated: Jun 24, 2020




As I discussed in my last post we are living in unprecedented and uncertain times. In fact, we are in the midst of a global crisis. But during these difficult times, I can’t help but notice a vast difference between how organisations and their leaders are coping in the current climate…

Some leaders and organisations are struggling and may even be poised to go out of business, while some are powering through busily preparing for the new “normal”.


There are obviously many things to consider when looking at what have been the defining factors for survival in times such as these.


In this post I would like to reflect and focus on what some organisations were doing before all this, before the pandemic, before the unrest and before the uncertainty to understand the key factors that have allowed some organisations to get through this difficult time better than others. Let’s start with...


Agility


You may already know that I’m a big advocate of the Agile Software Development Philosophy. So much so that I have found ways to apply many of its principles to all aspects of business and divisions of the organisations that I lead as it should not just be a secret kept amongst software developers.

Let’s take a step back and think about what it means for organisations to be agile? Quite simply, it’s an organisation's ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

What I found was that the organisations that have coped with the current crisis the best are the ones who embraced the concept that it is difficult to predict the future with certainty, therefore it is better to assume things will inevitably change and be prepared to be flexible. Meaning, they didn’t leave things to chance, they accepted and embraced change and ate it for breakfast.

Mobility


How many organisations out there have said “it’s too expensive to provide employees with laptops” and instead, provide employees with clunky cheap hardware that is only accessible within the office. Remember the days you had to copy something on to a USB stick just so you could access the files you needed to access on the G drive?

How many of you or your organisations have rejected requests to work from home. I certainly have in my earlier years, I didn't know any better.

Yes I know, providing staff with laptops is more expensive, and yes, working from home presents challenges related to data security, team communication and it also requires an element of trust.

But have you ever thought about the expense of not doing or providing these things? How much is it costing you in lost productivity? And in times like these, how difficult has it been for your workforce to be productive?

Readiness


Finally, every organisation is different and so are its people but I found that the organisations and leaders that prior to the crisis had the following things in place;

  • Strategies and plans that were easily able to adapt to change

  • A culture of trust, teamwork, accountability and pride in their work

  • Reasonable flexibility in the workplace allowing employees to work from home when needed

  • Provided tools and resources employees needed to do their jobs effectively

  • Understood the benefits of using cloud based infrastructure and collaboration tools

...these organisations were ones who were more likely to survive in times of uncertainty and crisis because they were already mobile and productive. Importantly, they were well equipped, well prepared and were readily available to change direction when needed.

While those who;

  • Did not provide their people with the right tools and resources even after the many complaints and attempts to change the slow and unproductive often old legacy systems and computers because "its too hard" or "its too expensive"

  • Lacked trust to do the right thing if employees were to work from home or perhaps lacked the tools to monitor productivity and performance. Whatever it was, these requests for flexibility would be knocked back or even frowned upon

  • Probably never heard of cloud-based collaboration tools, and if they have heard of them, they feared them because they felt more comfortable with “what they have always done” or

  • Stuck with traditional ways of working ie paper based, takes 6 meetings and 5 signatures to get anything done or approved, physical server in the office with that one “fail safe” power board, you get the drift...

...these organisations were the ones who struggled the most because they simply were not ready to change nor adapt to these difficult and changing times.

It has definitely been an eye opener and an interesting exercise to consider how agile and mobile a company truly was prior to the crisis and if that is a significant factor in determining the effectiveness of a company to work through a crisis, or times of uncertainty.

In any case, it answers my questions about why some organisations and people thrive while others struggle. The good organisations and its leaders put some serious thought and attention to preparing for times of crisis and uncertainty and it has certainly paid off.

What do you think? Do you agree with the above? What did you do BEFORE the crisis? And what are some of the things that have either helped or hindered your organisation getting through this crisis?

Next week as part of our three part discussion of leading in times of crisis and uncertainty, we will discuss what these organisations and leaders did DURING times of uncertainty and crisis (part 2).

Look forward to discussing more with you then.

Listen. Learn. Lead.

- Joana x




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Joana is a natural born leader, strategist, problem solver, business partner & advisor, online business coach, employee & customer experience champion, people & culture advocate, HR leader, home decor & organisation enthusiast and, serious coffee drinker 😜


Her mission is to help startups and small businesses to grow and scale by transforming their employee and customer experience into something unique, exciting and extraordinary with the ultimate aim of creating viable and profitable organisations.

Her vision is to inspire the next generation of servant and transformational leaders with her ultimate aim of changing the world one business and leader at a time - follow her quest and journey here!

 

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