Volume 18 Number 5 - May 5, 2020


You’ve never led an organization during a day without uncertainty. There is no such thing. Today’s disruption may be more widespread and unpredictable than most.  That doesn’t change your role. True leaders don’t quit leading when times are tough, nor do they change how they lead.

Some of us are calm, empathetic, strategic leaders in good times. The best leaders exhibit those same characteristics today. The full range of your constituencies is looking to you for leadership, honesty, and confidence. Even when you’re not at all sure about the future, you must provide all three of those. Even confidence. Confidence that you may not know how or what, but you know you’ll find a way with the help of others.

Your business has been shut down for weeks and cash has moved from king to ace as you work to survive until the government lets you reopen. You’ve talked with suppliers and customers to understand their conditions and share yours. Or your sales are down 85 percent, and you don’t know if your prior business will ever return. You’re scared. Or your sales have tripled because you support high-demand healthcare supplies and you don’t know how to make anyone happy right now. And you know this could disappear as quickly as it arrived.

Regardless, calm, empathetic, strategic leadership is required. Panic doesn’t solve problems, nor does it create an improved future. Talking about “a return to normal” is delusional. Focusing on the strengths that enabled prior successes will help you envision and create an improved normal.

It never was about your products or your quality. It was about your people, your commitment to transparency, to all your constituencies, to adding increased value. That’s why the strategic reset that is required--and be assured that one is required for each one of you--should not scare you; instead let it invigorate you.

When you see manufacturers move from making one thing to totally different products in days, you are seeing agile in action. When you see Dyson create a new ventilator in under two weeks, you see recognition and application of core competency—airflow--in action. When you see movie site finders help the New York government identify potential temporary hospital care locations you witness understanding that value is not limited to past markets.

Normal does not mean static. It is constantly evolving, as does business. Thinking strategically is your job.  That was true last year, this year, and next year. People are counting on you to do just that effectively.

If it would help you to discuss your challenges and opportunities, I’m here for you. As always, we’re in this together.

The Starting Pistol

Abraham Lincoln:
"The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Leaders focus beyond today to create the future they intend. There will be no 'return to normal.' Create the extraordinary."

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