The challenges that I hear from business leaders with the COVID-19 business disruption are synonymous with my fog-driving experience. Leaders are steering their organization in times of uncertainty and ambiguity. The models and graphs that have been used as signposts for projection no longer serve as an indicator. The milestones & KPI's which were set no longer serve as landmarks to know if they are on the right track. How do you make decisions as a leader when the future that is shaping seems undefined in the next couple of months and years? Here in this article, I'll share with you what creative leaders are doing to make strategic decisions during these times:
1. Slow down
It's normal that our mind shifts to flight or fright mode in times of uncertainty. These reactive patterns could show up as being easily triggered, too critical of our colleagues, or having perfectionism panic on overdrive. To move from this reactive place to our wise part of ourselves, we need to slow down and be highly aware of what is going on inside of us. Practice self-awareness to take stock of what are the thoughts that are running through your head, how you are feeling, what sensations you are experiencing in your body. Slowing down and practicing mindfulness goes a long way to calm us down during turbulent times.
2. Regain your balance
I define balance as the sense of livelihood we experience from having a fulfilled lifestyle. Your sense of balance could have come from your gyming, biking, camping, taking your children on the weekend out for their play days. With quarantine limiting our movement, the activities that provided you with balance have been disrupted. Come up with creative ways to regain your sense of balance. If working out was your thing, how can you do it at home? Can you create a fun play day for your kids indoors? Maybe you put off writing articles for some time like me, and this situation might present you with a golden opportunity for you to start. Once you regain your sense of balance, your creativity that can see opportunities amid challenges switches on.
3. Listen beyond the obvious.
Every informed strategic decision starts with gathering intelligence. Your sensory antenna needs to be stretched both outwards in the market and inwards within your organization. To gather intelligence beyond data and trends index, you would need to listen to opposing opinions, empathize with what people are going through, and tune in to the inner guidance of your intuition. The quality of the questions you ask and the level of your curiosity will dictate the quality of intelligence that you will receive.
4.Practice deep democracy to leverage systematic awareness
If, as a leader, you can listen, you are among the few. If you can create a culture where people listen, you are among the rare. Deep democracy is a way of communicating where people have the willingness to share their unfiltered opinions, vulnerable enough to share emotions, and feel safe to be courageous enough to share out of the box ideas. People start talking about the real issue, admitting mistakes, and build on each other's ideas. This means moving away from a silo mentality and putting oneself in the shoe of different departments. Systematic awareness is crucial for two reasons:
1) The build-up of the conversation and interaction will provide intelligence that was not obvious initially.
2) To get commitment and real buy-in from your colleagues on your decision, there needs to be enough ideas and communication shared where people feel they have kept no stone unturned, which is enabled by unfiltered communication.
5. Once you have gathered enough intelligence, allow your intuition to guide you.
Once you have mindfully centered, regained your creative capacity, listened, and tapped into the collective intelligence of your organization, your path would have become more visible. You have established a solid foundation to inform your intuition. There will come a time where you have gathered enough intelligence about a situation where your intuition guides you towards a resonant choice. Even if the whole path is not clear, you would have honed enough towards a direction where through trial and error, you will zig-zag towards the right track.