In the early days of the pandemic, we got sick of the phrase “unprecedented times”, but they were unprecedented because they affected everybody at the same time. Over the last few decades, other industries have also faced massive disruption and change, and I worked with leaders and teams in those industries as they strived to survive or thrive.
But the coronavirus pandemic was (and is) different.
For almost everybody, this was their first experience of disruption that affected the entire world. You couldn’t switch to a new market, you couldn’t transfer your operations elsewhere, and you couldn’t escape to a safe haven. It affected everybody and everywhere.
What’s more, it created a triple crisis: a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis. Even if you work in an area that wasn’t affected badly by the health crisis – and hence didn’t suffer from the economic crisis – the social crisis continues to affect your team members, their loved ones, and others in their community.
I wrote my previous book “Disruption By Design” to warn leaders about inevitable disruption coming their way, and to urge them to take action (“disrupt yourself”) before it happened to them. I didn’t predict it would come from a pandemic, but I knew it would come from something.
This book is for leaders on the other side of disruption, who must lead with both their heart and their head, as they navigate through this time of uncertainty and rapid change.
- Empathy: In a crisis, different people act differently. Getting up is harder than falling down, and people need time and space to adjust to their situation before they adapt to it.
- Clarity: In a crisis, you can’t promise your team certainty and safety – nobody can – but you can give them greater clarity to move ahead despite the uncertainty.
- Trust: As you move to recovery, trust in your team members (and their trust in you) gives them confidence and accelerates the journey.
- Action: Moving beyond crisis means we must plan and act even in uncertainty, choosing a path to follow but also staying flexible enough to change direction if circumstances change.
- Team: The pandemic disrupted office workers and created the world’s biggest working-from-home experiment. It also created the opportunity to reimagine the workplace of the future.
- Vision: We see disruption and change even in good times, but in a crisis it’s easier for disruptors to gain traction. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create a clear and compelling vision for your future.
- Digital: The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, which has been “top of mind” for many leaders for years. But don’t be digital just for digital’s sake. Do it to better serve customers, employees, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders.