Companies that are facing industry disruptions are bad enough; during these times, leadership faces the most important test – the ability to lead during a crisis. The need of foresight, change and organization design are what true leadership looks like.
Some see this as an opportunity to gain power and fulfil their thirst for greed and this needs to be stopped. Because strategic leadership matters… whether through malice or naïveté, those who abuse or tolerate the abuse of leadership place companies at risk.
Poor leadership cripples businesses abilities to accept new realities, correct mistakes and make strategic bets. At lower levels in the hierarchy, the problem was even more severe because in decisions and lack of strategy. Seeing things for what they are. Strong crisis leaders live on the front end of reality and speak in future tense. They recognize systemic drivers and their significance and do not shy away from the consequences of what they see. Foresight and strategic intellectual integrity is a key component of crisis leadership; they think of what is best for the organization, not their own personal or political gain. Poor strategic leadership is often the results of the following:
THE FALLACY OF FORESIGHT
Poor leadership assumes that the climate will gradually improve and things will not get worse. They think the future is predictable and they have a good pulse of the market better than others. Often what they have is groupthink. The reality is things do get worse and they are still reacting to the shift rather than getting ahead of the shift. They could not connect all the variables that are shaping the future of the business and fail to calculate the unforeseen market, industry, technological, social, and behavioural shifts. The fallacy of prediction inevitably led to the downfall of many businesses.
Strategic foresight is often lacking to allow the companies think ahead of the curve. Strategy and detail with speed and clarity. They are able to see the big picture. They can see all of the moving parts and understand what is cause and what is effect. They get below the 30,000 ft level and can dig deep into detail without being mired in it. They quickly develop a very detailed knowledge of the issues. This ability further enhances their capacity to view the problem realistically.
THE FALLACY OF SECRECY
Poor leadership believes it is better to shield middle and junior employees from the seriousness of the crisis and radiate a false sense of comfort hoping people won’t read what’s out there. The most common defensive speech usually include 1/ We still a very loyal customer base and they are very loyal to us 2/ We still have a lot of cash 3/ Our product is good and we need better marketing 4/ We are not aggressive enough in pricing. All wrong. Many of these can go away very quickly. Companies should connect their passion points to a foresight-based business strategy that are executable to secure their support and commitment.
THE FALLACY OF ORGANIZATION
Poor leadership usually based them on the notion that a new organization structure is important to formally show the transformation. Any formal organization redesign takes too much time to execute and slow down the transformation. This is the time where they should get rid of people’s title and organize as hubs and networks to executive their strategies. It needs to act as an attacker not a defender. Defender usually won’t survive. Leaders must be strong enough to hold themselves (and the board) accountable for the past transgressions of turning a blind eye from right and poor decisions or indecisions that led to the current state. Current problems are most likely the results of decisions that were made 24-36 months ago. Strong leaders take ownership of the problem and acknowledge that no magic can undo these poor decisions.
They understand, however, that a long-term solution requires the input and involvement of many stakeholders. They identify those individuals and work together towards a solution that everyone can support and can live with. They also need to differentiate from those who take advantage of the crisis by advancing their own agendas even at the expense of the organization. The successful crisis leader seeks out individuals who have a different and strategic perspective on an issue even whose advice may be contrary to that of their board.
Crisis is the time for real strategic leadership. It is the time to deliver bad news when they need to and do it in a way that avoids panic and provides a realistic level of hope for the future. Above all, they are courageous enough to make sharp decisions, act with speed and take carefully calculated risks.