Life is about change. For many of us this fact has never before been so explicitly highlighted. Trying to predict the post-pandemic reality is a scorching hot topic right now. Without a crystal ball what we are left with is uncertainty and ambiguity. It can truly feel like being in the dark. Herein lies the first opportunity. Leaders, you can define your own leadership brand, and the brand of your organization, for years to come when you use this as a catalyst for emergent change.
After a critical disruption, the desire for predictability is high and the tendency to react and jump right to action is understandable. No one wants to languish in the ambiguous murkiness for long. I encourage leaders to use this ‘in the dark’ stage to ignite a different sort of discourse. Find a way to listen to the concerns, the wisdom gained from lived experience, as well as the experiments that people tried in the pursuit of simpler ways of working. Hear the perspectives of people at all levels and also your contractors. The ONLY way to move into a bold future is to start where you are!
This foundational step provides rich data - what has worked, what hasn’t and what has been missed. This is not a survey, it is a conversation. Instead of a crisis response, this is the bridge to the future. With a quick bit of design thinking and the technologies at hand, you can do all of this dialogue online, if need be. HR and change experts can be brought in to help.
From this initial gathering and reflecting, your discourse must shift to aligning on a universally shared understanding of the challenge and opportunity. Your role as a leader is bringing the future into focus by integrating the contributions of individuals and the contextual truth of internal and external factors. Be prepared to let go of your own ideas in exchange for a fresh definition of the organization. The real power is in the reshaping. Let the future vision emerge.
“Alone you can go fast. Together we can go far.” This African proverb sums up the trend in organizations that are highly adaptive. Adapting to circumstances, these organizations are paying attention to re-humanizing every interaction. More deep listening, more open dialogue and reflection, ensures you are leading and preparing your people for easy adaptation. There will not be a stable new normal anytime soon.
A silver-lining to embrace is the involuntary shift to a more agile organization operating model for many. A quick Google search brings back 99 million entries on agile organization. Yes, the pursuit of agile has become an industry. Agile is here, so let’s get confident and capable. Let’s not lose this vital lesson.
Leaders, don’t let it feel difficult for people. Be masterful at inviting people to join the conversation and shape the future.
About the Author
Urusla Erasmus is recognized for her unique approach to simplifying change work. She is a thought leader in emergent change and an advisor, coach and consultant to executives and teams. Since 2000 Ursula has worked with several large national and global organizations, helping them build their change capability and confidence, while delivering large initiatives.
She is a professional facilitator, certified PRoSci change management professional and trained in Gestalt practice. Ursula is a Class of 2015 Peter Senge Executive Champion. Her passion is helping individuals and organizations discover a simpler way to change.