Finding focus in difficult times – A leadership challenge
March 31, 2020
If you’re a leader, how do you find focus at a time like this? It’s unlikely you’ve ever faced such a significant challenge. You may be in a front line organisation with staff in personal danger; you may be worried for the very survival of your business or you may be struggling to cope with unprecedented demand for your services. Whatever the situation, this is not business as usual and it will be a test of your leadership.
The Primary Colours Covid-19 Leadership Survival Guide (downloadable here) is a comprehensive guide to help you step up to the mark, strike the right balance among the competing demands on your time and resources, and help your organisation not only survive, but thrive as the situation develops.
I’m starting to use it with my clients to help them find focus and target their effort appropriately. Some are overwhelmed with operational issues, like furloughing staff, managing cashflow and keeping core services running. Others are thinking through the best way to close down strategic projects so that they can be picked up quickly at a later date. A lucky few have the time and space to rethink their strategy. All are having to figure out how to take care of their people and themselves.
It’s not that there is an absolute right way to do any of these things – though clearly, from the high profile examples of business leaders being publicly vilified for the way they have treated staff or customers, there are definitely some wrong ways. You need to work out what’s right for you and your organisation.
Sources of advice
Because we cannot possibly know what is right for your organisation, the guide contains no specific advice. It simply highlights the questions you need to address. However, I recognise that if you’re pondering questions like ‘How can I connect with people on a human level rather than just about work?’ or ‘What can I do to maintain my mental focus?’ then it would be useful to have somewhere to turn. With that in mind, I’ve started to compile a list of links to support and advice from trusted sources covering everything from accountancy to meditation. That is contained in the blog post immediately following this one.
An unfolding situation
I sense that this crisis is coming at us in waves. We’ve had the initial shock and readjustment, followed by settling in to a new way of working. Along with that has come novelty, humour, frustration, the impossibility of working with toddlers and video conference fatigue.
A few client organisations, mainly in the South East, are hitting the next wave, which is coping when people go off sick. Here in the South West we don’t seem to be quite there yet, but it’s inevitable. Sadly, some organisations are likely to face another wave – the one where someone dies. More optimistically, there may be a further wave of organisational (and, perhaps, societal) transformation as we come out of this. And along the way there will be wave after wave of emotions – yours and other people’s – optimism, boredom, frustration, anxiety, terror, grief, rage.
All of these require different leadership responses, which is why it’s important to keep reviewing what you’re doing. The Primary Colours® Covid-19 Leadership Survival Guide is designed to be used repeatedly, either on your own or as part of your leadership team meetings, to work out how to respond as the situation changes. If you have a coach, you could use it with them. However you do it, it is always worth putting the time aside to take stock.