Leadership, culture and commitment as foundational pillars.
This year we saw a tremendous amount of resilience from businesses worldwide as they rapidly adjusted to COVID-19. At what felt like a moment’s notice, organizations were forced to adopt remote working, rethink operations and make critical decisions to help their businesses stay afloat in a sea of economic uncertainty. Through that process, weaknesses and vulnerabilities surfaced, magnifying the need for many companies to initiate a broader transformation in order to survive and grow.
Finding Opportunity in Crisis
As companies look to the days when COVID-19 is behind us, many will attempt to address the problems and organizational inefficiencies that were magnified during the pandemic. However, even with the purest intentions, most will fail because they lack the fundamental elements needed to succeed.
For more than 25 years, I’ve helped companies navigate change, which inspired my recently published book, “6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide to a Successful Business Transformation Journey”, where I share examples of the types of transformation that can happen when priority is placed on these three foundational elements:
A company will only get so far without strong leadership. Strong leaders don’t simply emerge during difficult times but instead, consistently exemplify and guide an organization in executing its vision. They set the tone for how employees experience work and live by company culture while engaging and encouraging employees to do the same. Great leaders understand the importance of transforming their business—sooner or later, it’s necessary and vital for growth.
However, knowing when change needs to happen isn’t always cut and dry. In many cases the fulcrum, or the key driver for the transformation, is overlooked by leaders who fail to act. Recognizing the opportunity for transformation and having a clear vision for the future state of the business is often the hardest part.
In order to act on the weaknesses exposed by COVID-19, your organization must have leaders in place who are aware, recognize the problems and see the potential to transform the business.
Culture is the center of a company’s identity and is comprised of the values, attitudes and beliefs that guide people throughout the organization. Culture influences how teams work together and their productivity, efficiency and commitment to the business. It also determines how the people in an organization respond to change and how resilient they are in times of uncertainty. During the pandemic, when most people were collaborating remotely and working from home, many for the first time, company culture was put to the test. Those with strong values and a culture of collaboration, resiliency, trust and determination persevered.
As you move forward, consider your organization’s culture. Is it driving performance? Is your culture something to be proud of? Are your organization’s values expressed from the top down and exemplified by leaders? If not, it may be time to take a look at the structure, technology, processes and people supporting your company’s culture to discover opportunities for meaningful change.
Commitment to Change
Resistance to change is a common obstacle companies face as they initiate a transformation. A successful transformation means changing people’s habitual behaviors and aligning their skills with new processes and requirements. Buy-in and commitment to any transformation must start with leaders in your organization. By focusing on building trust, adapting, helping employees feel safe, handling problems calmly, collaborating and communicating with confidence, leaders can help the workforce overcome fears or roadblocks to change.
At the same time, leading a change process isn’t easy. Success requires strong leadership skills and the ability to clearly articulate the need for change; it also requires the need to respond to questions and concerns, and delegate tasks responsibly. Leaders must reassure doubters and those who are fearful that, in the long run, this is the better course for the company and the people who support it. This is why it is critically important to provide the support, tools, programs and processes they need to succeed.
These elements are key to correcting the weaknesses within your organization, and also the bedrock of a successful business. As we move beyond the challenges of COVID-19, it’s the perfect time to pay attention to opportunities for transformation, but first revisit your organization’s leadership, culture and values.