As we described in the blog, Three Phases for Today’s Small Business, businesses are working through 3 phases: Sort Out, Ride Out and Dig Out (of the fishhook). For many, we are past Sort Out and have moved into Ride Out. Even though we’ve clarified current reality and sorted out huge amounts of resources, info and options, it doesn’t diminish how it continues to disrupt our world. Confusion and overwhelm are still clinging to us both personally and at work.
In the middle of all this disruption, leaders must disrupt. That is the way to ride it out. As Patrick Lencioni so aptly states, “leaders will either come out of this stronger or weaker”. To come out of it stronger, we must adjust and not rely on our past business model to pull us through. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and define our new world … the way we want it to be, taking as much control as we can over how that may look. Ask yourself, how can you disrupt …
The Customer Experience:
- Give something to your customers they don’t expect. Surprise them, support them, serve them in as many different ways as you can. We all need help at this time. What we do as leaders today will be remembered long into the future.
- Many are using the term “pivot”, meaning how quickly a company can change up what they offer to either maintain market share or grab new market share. Lead the charge by asking, “what do our customers really need at this time? What can we switch up to make it happen?”
Your Internal Processes and Procedures
- Take action now to scrutinize your internal systems. What hasn’t been working and how can you eliminate the least valued procedures? Eliminate long-standing traditional processes that provide little value but no one on the team has had the courage to suggest for fear of the “we’ve always done it that way” backlash.
- It is critical to inspect every aspect of how we work, getting lean and mean about the way we do things, even if it disrupts. Complacency has no position or power during times like these.
Your Long-term Vision
- How will your long-term plan be affected by current reality? Your short and intermediate plans are key to riding this out. Dealing with the reality of today challenges leaders in a way that we’ve never experienced. What you decide today will undoubtedly disrupt your long-term thinking. As Jim Collins stated in Good To Great, “… first confront the brutal facts”. From there, you find the path forward.
- How will today’s chaos modify tomorrow’s long-term vision? Have you projected out possible outcomes? What can quickly re-position business toward success in the future?
- Focus on team health. Challenge your teams to think outside their roles. How can they cover for each other? Can they take on internal projects while waiting for increased demand to turn around? How can employees learn new skills and prepare for roles needed in the future?
- Disrupt how you assess your teams. Now is the time to establish consistent one-on-one meetings with individuals. How can you identify their strengths to leverage them toward more valuable responsibilities?
- Disrupt your own time management habits. What is urgent? What is important? Do you know the difference? If you don’t, the people you lead will have a hard time trusting you. In stressful times, we all have a tendency to fall back on work that is easy and safe but may not be important. Get the not important and not urgent off your plate even if it disrupts your routine.
- How much time are you giving to being human and paying attention to what your employees are experiencing? This is not the time to think “efficiency”. Lean more toward effectiveness or listening to understand. Paying attention takes time. Disrupt your day and make sure you give others the gift of your time.
Today’s business climate is chaotic as we ride out this pandemic, not knowing its timeline nor the impact it will continue to have on us financially, professionally and personally. We have seen unbelievable examples of leadership at all levels in small business. In every case, that leader disrupted the disruption we’re feeling.