Going through a global health crisis that sparked huge economic shocks gave certainly new meaning to the notion of “uncertain times”. With all businesses being blindsided by the pandemic, most were forced to make painful decisions quickly. Others benefited, and now are faced with lingering supply chain issues. As many have noted, we’ve all been in the same storm, but in different boats.
As leaders of organizations, we must move forward.
Many of the leaders is grappling with how we get the feeling of a shared success: an organizational state where both the employees and the employer feel successful. This is especially difficult as we enter the post-COVID era when we’re not only seeking to find a “new normal”, but as unprecedented uncertainty makes it feel as if it’s a series of “new nows”.
“I’m uncertain what we are facing tomorrow, but we must be prepared.”
-Nora M. Denzel-
In Freia Ltd we had a great opportunity to host a leadership webinar with a keynote speaker Nora M. Denzel. Nora is a former Silicon Valley executive with experience from several big companies as HP and IBM and currently a full-time board member in several Fortune 500 companies. The exact topic for the leadership webinar was “The new normal or the new now – From strategy to shared success”.
It was impressive, how Nora was able to open-up new insights from leadership mindset and development that has been a hot topic for already some time now. This text contains of a brief summary of the tips for The New Now, The Great Resignation, crucial leadership skills and strategic planning.
THE NEW NOW
One of the most interesting themes was the definition of the two mental leadership frameworks “The new normal and The new now”. Nora described their effect to our state of mind ie. how we meet the change. Are we waiting for getting to a new stable plateau or are we welcoming the opportunity to learn new skills and gather experiences?
If we stick to the New normal framework, in our minds we think that if I sacrifice now, it will be better and we will end up to a more stable plateau and it will relax for some time. In Nora´s and our opinion, this kind of thinking is already outdated and that it would practically mean that we would be experiencing a shock after shock. If we instead set our minds to an inevitable – that the next change is already approaching, we would be better prepared. Thinking the future as a series of New Nows would help us to confront the ever-changing environment. It is evident, that our mindset influences on our capability to succeed in future – both on a personal and organizational level.
THE GREAT RESIGNATION
Is your company experiencing The Great Resignation?
As you might have noted, there seem to be resignation waves in organizations. According to Microsoft survey (The next great disruption is hybrid work Report 2021), over 40% of global workforce is planning to change jobs in near future and over 50% of the Z generation. That is of course a significant threat to the economy and leads to a leak of knowhow, if it will be realized.
Interesting figures were also the three categories that Nora presented. The first category being 34% of employees who are actively engaged to the company. The second category, 14% of employees that are not engaged to a company at all and the third category, over 50% of employees who are psychologically not connected to a workforce. These people are not performing bad, but they are not engaged either. If we could get this largest population to find the purpose and being more engaged, the impact would be huge for the companies and economies.
At the moment, many businesses are suffering the shortage of manpower. We highly recommend gathering information about employees´ engagement levels and lead purpose throughout the organization. Not necessarily due to the annual personnel turnover rates, but for securing the future of your company and staying ahead of resignation.
“If my individual why is served in the company, I will stay.”
Simon Sinek has written a great book – Start with why. According to him three things can make employees to stay. First, Purpose driven leadership. Second, mastery – am I learning, am I enriching myself? Third, autonomy – Do I have an opportunity to have impact? To be able to make a real difference on the way we lead and manage, a lot of attention needs to be paid to the support we offer to the growth of our leaders.
CRUCIAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS
“How do I lead towards shared success?”
The core key for the shared success is a shared sense of purpose. As we go on with the uncertain times, purpose driven leadership is needed. With leadership skills and competencies this means stronger emphasis on How we lead (soft skills) and Why (organization purpose). At the same time, we should understand to reduce the emphasis on What (technical skills).
The future leaders, more and more, need to find the emotional connection to people. The best leaders can give clarity when there is a lot of complexity. “Clarity of vision what could be and enable people to get there”. When converting leadership competencies into behaviors, three tips were presented for the leaders:
- Have a genuine positive attitude
- Use inquiry rather than advocacy – asking a lot of questions, rather than having all the answers.
- Be a broker of information and create a culture of enablement
The outcome of preferred leadership behavior is that you will become a producer of future leaders. Your role as a leader is to find the right set of people and to know where the information can be found. Therefore, paying more attention to succession pipeline in management development is getting crucially important.
“How to make strategic planning during uncertain times?”
The three boxes: strategy – processes – metrics are still relevant for strategic planning. However, there is a lot to reconsider. Nora pointed out few critical changes that need to take place:
- We need to change our mindsets towards the changing environment – we need to learn to welcome the surprises. In every operational review we should start asking: “What surprised you the most?” “What did you learn?”
- The companies need more variable approach to the resource planning. Instead of setting up a plan for years, we need to have more flexibility – and not just staring at the KPI figures but also the set of skills the organization needs in future.
DISCUSSION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
During the last couple of years leaders have been under enormous pressure. Even though this blog text contains many “shoulds” and “musts”, its aim is to be helpful and give tips to leaders seeking for clarity and answers. We do know how it feels like to be under pressure, carry wide responsibilities and make decisions during uncertain times.
We are aware that many of our thoughts should be adjusted for your own business and company. However, more detailed text would have been impossible when considering the variety organizations, personnel structure, and leadership cultures. As a leader, take our thoughts as a template and deepen it with your own notes.
After the webinar we have received a lot of positive feedback, and also questions. For example, how to attract, sustain and develop the future talents and at the same time create flexibility in workforce resources? How to create clarity for vision in consecutive new nows? How to gain the start-up mentality and the courage to maintain it in strategic planning? We thank all these great questions and we are available to comment these also in the future and social media.
Finally, we would like to thank Nora M. Denzel for the inspiring webinar. She managed to create a good balance of strategic perspective and useful tips for leaders in current situation and for the next nows – and yet leaving enough space for participants´ own thinking.
If our thoughts did resonate with yours, we are curious to hear more about your situation. Contact us and let´s aim together towards the Shared Success.
In case you missed the webinar, watch the full recording HERE
Virpi Ojakangas, Business Coach, Talent savior, ICF Credential-holder
Virpi has solid experience in personnel and communications management in international corporations. She is at her best in inspiring people to make epiphanies, cheering them to learn, and giving them effective feedback. In Virpi’s hands the team lights up, and a completely new culture of trust and daring is born.
Antti Äikäs, CEO at Freia Ltd, Effectiveness Expert, PhD Candidate
Antti is an interdisciplinary developer of working life. He’s an expert in planning and managing personnel development programs and in evaluating their effectiveness. Antti has a unique ability to proactively recognize alarm signals in both individual and company level. He gets enthusiastic when he gets to actuate on effectiveness.
Freia Ltd is a Finnish management consulting company established 2020. We help corporate leaders in the areas of leadership development, work ability management and worksite health promotion with business in mind.
Fred Nickols. 2012. The Seven Secrets of Shared Success.
Freia Ltd. 2020. The DREAMS -research. Lahti. Finland.
Freia Ltd. 2021. The New Normal or the New Now? From Strategy to Shared Success -webinar.
James Kouzes & Barry Posner. 2017. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations.
Microsoft survey. 2021. The next great disruption is hybrid work. Work Trend Index Annual Report.
Simon Sinek. 2009. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.