Leading Without a Compass

April 27, 2020 Joe Britto

Reading time: about 2.5 minutes.

If the first quarter of 2020 felt like a lifetime, you’re not alone. We’ve gone from our normal routines, to a world that’s barely recognizable. As leaders, we’ve been called on to make extraordinary discussions with little information, and uncertainty about where those decisions might take us.

This week’s blog offers four mindset tips to help when leading without a compass. I hope you find it useful.

Tip 1: Be Real

No one is expecting you to know how to lead in a pandemic. No one is expecting you to have all the answers. What we need now are human leaders. Leaders who recognize that our people and stakeholders are going through a lot. They don’t need someone who acts like they know what’s going on, and has the future mapped out. You can’t, and you don’t.

It’s ok to be unsure. It’s ok to say what you know and what you don’t. And it’s ok to say that, with the information you have, you feel X is good next step. The trick to leading without a compass, is to not pretend you have one.

You’re looking to reassure those around you and let them know, that as their leader, you’re aware of the dangers ahead, and will do your best to navigate through with their best interests at heart.

Tip 2: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

You can’t control how long this will go on for. You can’t control if your supply chains have become disrupted. You can’t control the slump in your main revenue.

It isn’t surprising if that lack of control leaves you feeling anxious. An executive I spoke with last week asked how leadership is possible when everything is up in the air?

Leading is a path fraught with set-backs. We don’t lead in a straight line, if we did we’d all be great leaders. Taking on the mantle of leadership, means assuming the challenge of getting our team from here to there.

Keeping focused on what we’re trying to achieve with our teams and businesses gives us a clear target to aim for. When so much is unsure, having a target matters. Keeping our eyes on the prize is what gets us through difficult times.

The challenge we face in a pandemic is just how do we get there? Restricted control doesn’t mean no control. Look at what you can affect. Perhaps there’s smaller steps (but steps none-the-less) to your pre-pandemic goals. Maybe it’s something that was taking a back seat before. Maybe it’s a project that felt risky at the time, but feels less so now. My point is focus on what you can do to drive your team and business forward.

Tip 3: Create Leaders

In the same way that this situation is testing you, it’s testing your people. Involving others gives them a point of control and allows them to feel less helpless. You can involve them in decisions that effect them—gathering information, or identifying new revenue streams for example.

You’ll not only create a team that feels like we’re in this together. You’ll be growing leaders too. Ones that will help you navigate through this crisis and beyond.

Tip 4: Demonstrate Who You Are

You may not know where this is going, but you know who you are, and what your business stands for.

This is the time to demonstrate that in every interaction you have.

Maybe you can donate part of your services to help in the effort to beat the pandemic. If you’re a manufacturer perhaps you can retool to make medical supplies. If you’re a service provider perhaps you can help struggling businesses. Everyone has a role. To find yours, begin by asking yourself, what do you have at your disposal and how can it be used to help society?

What you say about your business now is what will be remembered about your business when this is all over.

Help if You Need It

At Innate Leaders, we’d like to help leaders develop new ways of thinking to help reduce layoffs, maintain supply chains, and address their business challenges, so businesses and people are financially viable six months from now.

If you’re a business who is struggling financially to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re donating our expertise for free via video-conferencing to help you develop a mid-term strategy, or rethink how you do business.

If you’re in a position to support this endeavor we’d welcome a contribution, but if not, we’ll provide our services for free. There’s no criteria to fulfill. Just contact us and we’ll do whatever we can to help.

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What to dive deeper?

Check out The Six Attributes of a Leadership Mindset by Joe Britto

Facing a people challenge?

Our approach starts with an interactive experience. We work with your teams to develop the six attributes of a leadership mindset that enables them to work together, model leadership, and come up with solutions themselves.

Facing a practical challenge?

Our consulting ignites a revolution. It grows the six attributes and operationalises leadership behaviours. Not only do your people have great ideas, they have the mindset to make those ideas succeed.

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