We are living in unprecedented times, not for you or me, for humanity. Never before has the whole world stopped like in the last 60 days. But regardless of how the world will be after the pandemic, the critical question here is: are you ready? Now that things are starting to "normalize" (whatever that means for wherever in the world you are), it's time to check in with yourself and see where you and your company are headed to next.
Where are you now?
I spent the last few weeks talking to CEOs and directors of midsize and big companies from the U.S.A., Canada, Europe and Latin America about how they are leading their companies at this time. We discussed actions that they must adopt for their business included in the asset that I shared with them. After all those conversations, I identified three kinds of behaviors:
Shock: they are paralyzed, uncertain about how they will keep the business running. No decisions, no discussions, they only want to do catharsis regarding their thoughts and feelings, mostly about the pandemic.
Neutral: they made only the urgent decisions and haven't thought ahead about the next steps. Conversations are focused on how to reduce costs, which kind of support governments are implementing, and how to identify which roles in their companies are less important.
Positive: they already made critical decisions, and are focusing on how they can grow even during these hard times. The conversations are centered around how to adapt their services or products to the new uncertain context, how to take the best approach to the market, and how to optimize efforts to improve the results facing Q3.
In my network, the leaders’ distribution is as follows:
39% in shock.
53% are neutral.
8% have a positive attitude.
Is this surprising to you? Can I ask: in which category are you now? Can you also identify how leaders in your network are doing?
Taking back control: The toolkit creation
Things get more interesting when you dive deeper into the ocean of the post-COVID-19 world because we will not just need a new plan; we’ll have to create a complete set of tools to navigate the new business context. Depending on your typology of leader, this could be a first aid box, a survival kit, or an explorer backpack.
The first aid box
The leaders in the first group, under shock, are going to need critical support to fix the wounds and try to regain their health as soon as possible. The context forces the decisions, and the leaders will resist as much as they can to implement it. This first aid box includes a few exceptions for the standard process: people keep working at the office (if possible), freeze all the payments to the vendor ecosystem, cancel outsourcing services and every marketing effort until the market gives some good signals. The box includes a set of improvised messages to the employees talking about hard times, potential layoffs, and salary reductions.
The survival kit
Perfect for the neutral leaders, all those who are walking back and forth between forced alternatives to drive the situation towards the least amount of damage.
This kit includes things for surviving; to keep it alive while the time does the rest of the work.
They make all the preventative decisions, but still, do their best to keep salaries and people. They prefer to affect the supply chain rather than their company, but without a clear strategy behind it. They explain everything as a consequence of the crisis and consider the erosion of the brand as natural damage in this kind of context.
The explorer backpack
To these leaders, the context is a challenge; they use evidence to gauge the situation, make a few necessary decisions, create a quick contingency plan for the next quarter, prepare their people, and execute. Their backpack includes a few things for surviving, just in case, but many more hunting tools. They push their marketing team to work on an intense campaign to execute immediately, keep the salespeople talking with customers, the procurement team having conversations with the vendor ecosystem, IT team guaranteeing accessibility for the remote work, and human resources being close to the people to maintain the high motivation. They see an opportunity after the crisis, and they work hard to read the signals, adapt the company, and keep the business running during the transformation.
It’s all about attitude
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging. What I want is to share with you our findings to encourage you to identify your current posture, and act as a consequence of your decisions – and not because of the context.
It’s time to wake up, make the decisions and move forward. Are you ready? Let’s talk.