You thought being a company leader was tough enough already? Think again. As the VUCA world around us keeps shifting, leadership will only get tougher and tougher.

Unexpected new challenges keep popping everywhere we look, from Brexit and the coronavirus, to game-changing technologies like electromobility and hydrogen fuel cells. Sometimes, it feels like we are a building a skyscraper in the middle of a hurricane. It’s our job to not only keep the building standing, but to flourish it to reach new heights. It is our mission to serve our societies and inspire our teams with a compelling story and a vision for the future.

There’s no guarantee for success. But there’s also no substitute for a solid, future-focused business model, backed up by a clear purpose. Let me share with you a few do’s and don’ts that I think can help us all in these uncertain times. 

Some dos

  1. Find a common purpose. If you know “what” you need to do as a company to remain competitive right now, then that’s great news. But that “what” is not what inspires your team. For that, you need a “why.” Rally your team around something that really matters. Define the compelling purpose behind every move you make as a company.
  2. Make it personal. Make everyone’s contribution relatable to the purpose, so they can see how their individual actions fit into the company’s higher purpose in the world.
  3. Repeat the message. It takes consistent messaging to get people on board with your plans. Don’t assume that everyone gets the message the first time around. Stick with it and don’t be afraid to repeat. Talk the talk, and walk the walk, then repeat.
  4. Expect misunderstanding. Just because something is crystal clear to you as a leader, doesn’t mean your team sees it clearly from day one. Expect for people to filter new information through the prism of their own life experiences. Welcome this diversity of perspectives. Let misunderstandings open up powerful, important conversations that bring people closer together.

Some don’ts

  1. Don’t hesitate. Your competition is not going to stand still and wait for you to get your house in order. If you hesitate to engage, you set yourself back. Your competitors will seize the opportunity. Fix those processes that give you the competitive edge and position the rest of your team to go for the gold.
  2. Don’t resist change. Fighting against change only delays the inevitable and costs precious time. Stay true to your vision, even when you know you’ll have to build new road ahead. Tackling unknowns head-on in uncertain situations can present unique advantages. For inspiration, look to those who have gone before you.
  3. Don’t add to the complexity. Transition is complex enough. Use this transformational moment as a chance to simplify existing complexities and tie off loose ends in the system. There’s no time and no need to overthink every small step. Trust in your purpose and it will lead you to the goal.

Making friends with change

The stakes have never been higher. One wrong move, and everything we’ve worked so hard for can come tumbling down. There’s no time for second-guessing.

Now is the time to follow our purpose and embrace change, whether we like it or not. That’s how we stand up against the powerful winds of change.

Girl with umbrella - Leadership in times in times of transition
First published on LinkedIn on March 12, 2020
About Thomas Birr
About Thomas Birr
Thomas Birr is a dedicated strategist and innovator with over 30 years of experience in the energy sector. His career reflects his own personal approach to life: energetic, unwavering and enterprising. He has served in wide-ranging executive positions, forging strategic leadership skills with his extensive expertise of energy, innovation and a global vision for the challenges ahead. Future Forward is Thomas’s personal blog, in which he shares his unique observations on leadership, innovation and the power of change.

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