Making Your Gains Permanent
By Mary Silva Doctor, Pam Bilbrey and Waldemar Kohl - May 2020
While many businesses continue to struggle during this trying time, others are experiencing a level of teamwork, engagement, and strategic ingenuity like never before. As we continue to check in with our clients more and more, we hear about the remarkable things organizations are accomplishing during the pandemic. Examples range from a healthcare provider that converted in-office visits to a virtual format in just six weeks, to a small non-profit that completely overhauled operations to continue to deliver on their mission, to an investment platform that launched a new cash product in record time. So how do you, as a leader, capture the lessons that your business is experiencing now and make them sustainable?
As we’ve seen during previous times of economic downturn and market disruption, successful leaders and organizations exhibit a unique discipline of reflection and response. The breakthroughs we’ve seen in product development, process improvement, and customer service over the past few weeks have been truly remarkable. But unless leaders stop to reflect and plan, it will all disappear—a “flash in the pan”—as the organization quickly returns to business-as-usual.
At the Table Group, we often remind clients that it’s crucial to regularly slow down, in order to speed up. If leaders want to leverage the acceleration in teamwork and creativity that’s happening now over the long-term, we recommend answering the following:
What have I learned through this crisis about myself, my team, and our business strategy?
We’re all familiar with this inflight instruction: put your oxygen mask on first. The best leaders we know pause to reflect on what they have learned about themselves, how they contribute to a team, and how they lead others. They identify specific areas to dial-up, dial back, or new skills that are needed.
Here are some insights leaders have shared with us:
When I am vulnerable and ask for help, it builds trust.
By giving more attention to the positive, I gain energy and a greater sense of optimism.
Transparency in my communication has a more significant impact than I realized.
Being empathetic is not an add-on but a way of leading.
Is your team working better than ever? That’s been a common theme during this Covid period. Even leadership teams who understand the fundamentals of healthy teamwork and organizational health are finding it much easier to come together and rally around common goals right now. What are some new disciplines and perspectives that leaders can adopt with their teams? Here are what some CEOs have told us about their teams:
Meeting more often has helped us stay focused and move quickly.
My team naturally came out of their swim lanes, and I think we can break silos for good.
Some people stepped up and surprised us with their leadership during this time. We are going to take a look at our talent and bench strength right now!
My team has recognized the collective value of being more connected with employees, and we are going to revisit our leadership principles to incorporate this expectation.
Armed with insights from your leadership and team reflections, take a close look at learnings about your business strategy. Successful CEOs are sharing ideas such as:
Do we need this step in the customer onboarding process? We didn’t seem to miss it in the past two months!
By outsourcing this legacy service, we can be more agile and responsive.
If we developed our managers to function more like Mike did during the crisis…
Our clients do want proactive advice, and we’re good at it! How do we leverage this strength across all product lines?
Bring your leadership team into this discussion and dedicate specific time to reflect on lessons learned, as well as how the organization should respond.
Don’t Miss This Opportunity
Leading our people and organizations through an historic time of change can be unnerving, even overwhelming. It’s critical, however, that we also see this point in time as a gift, with potentially unparalleled impact.
Our challenge to you: Dig deep into self-reflection, team learnings, and business insights. Step into this opportunity with confidence and humility.
As our founder, Pat Lencioni said recently, “you will be remembered by the way you lead during this crisis.” Take time now to develop a reflection and response discipline, and make sure to leverage all the positives from this crisis for the future of your organization, employees, and customers!