Organizations of all sizes in all industries are faced with having to make tough choices in light of the pandemic. While most leaders have had to accept the inevitable uncertainties and complexities they are facing and have began to adopt new strategies and perhaps even new directions, others have put their heads down trying to figure out how to survive.
The latter group is prone to making some serious strategic errors as they are reacting and not anticipating. Their vision is blurred by daily challenges, rendering them unable to see into the distance.
If you are one of these leaders, you need to be aware of mistakes others are making, and do your best to avoid them.
Regardless of which of these leaders you are, the corona virus has caused us to think about our organizations in 3 phases:
The past that was – stable and relatively predictable, the present that is – hectic, unpredictable, volatile, and the Future – a new normal which we do not yet know.
The actions you will take today as a leader will determine how or if your organization will survive. You will have to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important. You will to set priorities and assign tasks to your middle and senior management. Knowing how to delegate and who to delegate daily tasks is of paramount importance during this very critical period.
Management needs to address the urgent needs of every day – being our customers’ first choice, keeping the supply lines flowing, caring for our employees etc….this is the work of senior and middle managers.
Leaders on the other hand have to think about guiding their people and their organization through this storm. Rethinking the organization’s vision, setting new priorities, refocusing their energies, and securing the commitment of their troops must be the leader’s first mission.
With this in mind, the following 4 points constitute a summary of the errors being committed by certain leaders as they struggle with this crisis. This a recap of the last 3 months while working directly with many organizations, in Tunisia and abroad.
- Number one error, and the most common: Focusing too much on micro events. True any crisis makes us automatically focus on what events to control to stop the hemorrhaging. It is a natural human reaction of survival. But leaders need to resist this urge by pulling back and looking at the big picture. As a result they can focus on a broader set of conditions of success by working with proximity managers devising a set of actions. Leaders need to trust their managers to do their job of managing tasks.
- The second most committed error is leaders falling in love with the rush of adrenaline, and wanting to roll their sleeves and be involved in everything. They believe they are better than any to handle the crisis. This is where leaders who have worked their way up the ladder feel most at ease. It is their operational comfort zone. Good leaders need to take the long view and think of tomorrow, next month and next year. They need to trust their teams by delegating tasks and supervising from a distance.
- In the third place of errors being made is the tendency to want to control everything and end up Centralizing power, instead of delegating tasks. Out of fear of the situation declining, leaders build up too many check points where everything has to be validated by them, building unnecessary obstacles and slowing down a process. Leaders should seek order and consistency not control.
- The last and fourth error made by most leaders is forgetting about the Human facto In these uncertain and ambiguous times leaders tend to focus too much on performance indicators, sales, cost, profit and loss, and they forget about people. Without people there is no company and without them there is no future.
Leaders need to unite their people to a cohesive unit, explaining how each can contribute to a common mission. Leaders need to trust their employees to make decisions, and accept the errors that might ensue. Leaders need to focus on the long terms while allowing their managers to manage the short term.