In an ever-changing business environment, the need for innovation is greater than ever for organizations to survive and prosper. STARMANSHIP® & Associates’ executive director Fayez Helou outlines the ways in which managers can leverage their expertise and leadership skills to navigate uncertainty and achieve growth.
Leaders are able to see and act differently when they change the way they think. By engaging both their minds and skills, C-suite executives can guide their teams and organizations through periods of uncertainty.
Some of the common business challenges across different sectors and industries identified four key areas: supply chain, including delays in orders; increased costs of oil and gas, thus higher cost of transportation; post-pandemic employee engagement, such as the “quiet quitting” phenomenon; and cash flow issues that may cause a delay in payments.
However, even when these factors are beyond their immediate control, the ways in which leaders handle challenges can determine how their organizations fare.
While everyone handles change differently, there are 10 stages commonly observed among leaders:
• Shock and surprise
• Ego arise
• We try to hide it
• We try to disregard it
• It annoys us
• We start “blamestorming” sessions
• Burnout – leaders and team members
• Surrender to the trap
• Stay there
In addition, fear plays a major role during times of uncertainty. It can drive the wrong kind of behavior among leaders and negatively impact the organization. Equally detrimental to an organization are the so-called “naggers,” those team members who spread negativity and attract others think the way they do. Neither fear nor negativity can create opportunity. So, mind over matter is fundamental.
How to thrive and prevail in these uncertain markets
To thrive and prevail, leaders need to cultivate their mindset and carefully navigate 10 key stages, namely:
• Evaluate the challenges
• Face the brutal realities
• Expect the aftershocks
• Expect discouragement
• Expect environmental drawbacks
• Resilience and achievements
Ultimately, the key is to Keep Moving ahead in the business world, and that involves breaking free from assumed constraints.
How to overcome “assumed constraints”
One of the greatest obstacles to success is the notion of “assumed constraints” — a set of perceptions that drive detrimental behavior. Examples include past experiences, market conditions, society and the media. In recognizing our assumed constraints, we understand that a change in perception will drive solid behavioral change.
The importance of moving forward
Consider this carefully: things are moving forward and fast; doing things the same way means you are going backward. Change is the only means of creating opportunities. However, human nature dictates that we need motivation or a trigger to create change. Indeed, it is arguable that if the urgency is not there, we will never try to change. We are, by nature, change averse.
Throughout history, humans have been observed as being wired to react to change in order to survive. However, we have also proven ourselves as being amazingly adaptable. Franklin Covey provides us with further insights in its study of the 5 Common Reactions to Change, these are:
• Move – we rapidly spring to action
• Minimize – we change as little as possible
• Wait – we do nothing until others change
• Resist – we dislike change and convince others to fight it
• Quit – we leave or stay but don’t engage (quiet quitting)
Once an individual chooses to change, “The Change Model” offers a dynamic representation of the achievable results over time when proactivity coupled with perseverance. By moving through four specific zones — status quo, disruption, adoption and innovation — we are guided on a path to opportunity. Innovation is the ultimate goal and requires commitment and resilience, as it is easy to stumble after the second stage and revert to the status quo or, worse still, remain in a constant state of disruption without progress.
Mastery is the key to success in life. We gain value from taking action on what we can control and focusing our time on it.
There are 13 strategies to help you grasp opportunities and ensure your organization grow. Here are just a few of them:
• Spend more time in the field
• Take the supervisor/manager with you (to the market/trade forums/meetings)
• Increase your customer visits while your competitors are decreasing theirs
• Keep your emotions under control
• Be agile and flexible
As a leader, you must be a role model and truly take the lead. In the military, leaders move forward with their soldiers despite the unknown; they get up to fight; they are agile, ready and willing to adjust their plans and tactics to reach the desired objectives.
Finally, ensure you place greater importance on setting small goals and celebrating them with your team.