Gladiator: An armed fighter during the era of Roman Empire who jumped into the arena to combat and win, whatever be the collateral damage. In fighting with rage and fury they inspired admiration.
Modern day equivalent of many CEO’s who have been running their corporation in that manner. Jumping into the arena (aka boardroom), armed with market information, competitor analysis, employee productivity data and business forecasts.
War cry: Meet the numbers!
Come what may. Do or die. Sink or swim. Whatever it takes. Up or out. These phrases flew thick and heavy through the boardroom.
The pandemic brought all of this to a grinding halt. What has worked for centuries suddenly didn’t. It was impossible to fathom what the future will bring let alone prepare for it.
Thus started leaders journey of rapid descent.
Into themselves. Many dug deep into the recesses of their heart and soul and drew strengthen and guidance from there. Operated from principle of doing the right thing. Letting their heart guide their head! Others sought support. The rest drifted.
After my conversation with over 20 CXO’s and CEO’s in last few months, here are 3 things that stood out on how to navigate through these turbulent times:
1. Company culture and values are the lighthouse.
When waters are choppy, sky is dark and ship is sailing without a compass, that is what will get it through to safer shores. All of these leaders drew strength from leaning into their core values of care, ownership, agility, innovation, collaboration, drive…They demonstrated the behaviours of these values, got everyone to rally around them and trusted them to lead the company in the right direction. On the other hand, many who had not had the time to focus on their culture, suddenly found it and are focussing on igniting and rejuvenating it.
Lesson: Culture is not something you focus on when there is time. It is something to believe in and build now!
2. 3P’s reign supreme - Purpose, people and passion.
All those who worked through this unprecedented crisis “purpose backwards” have come out shining. Unscathed and revered. The CEO’s who talked about business beyond profits and productivity, saw them almost magically happen. That is the cause and effect of believing in growth led by fueling people passion, rallying them around larger purpose and being present for them.
Lesson: Rejuvenate your leadership team. Strengthen their integration and alignment. Partner with your people leader(s) to build new age skills as transformational, inspirational, authentic, empowering and social leadership skills in your top team.
3. Growth is first “within” and then “outside”
When there is no place to go outside, one must go inside. The pandemic almost forced all leaders to embark on a journey of self exploration and discovery. It was painful to begin with they all said and then was filled with wonderment, acceptance and eventually deep inner transformation. Outward manifestation of that has been transformational change in their mindset, values and behaviours. Those who created a space in their lives to work with someone who held the safe space for them, had their back, listened and sparred with them without bias or judgement and guided them to deeper discoveries and newer strengths fared well.
Lesson: Seek a companion, colleague or a coach who will be your compatriot. Because the “Being” needs a nudge. “Doing” magically happens!.
The days of winning via brute strength and solo fights are long over. And while we may not be out of the woods yet, It is time to rise like a Phoenix!
1st published in Economic Times HR...Written by Harlina Sodhi