The pandemic has exposed organizations in all sectors and of all sizes to difficult choices. Most business leaders have had to integrate the inevitable uncertainties and complexities they face by trying to adopt new strategies and even new directions, while others have stuck to a reckless search for ways to survive the crisis.
The latter group of leaders is prone to making serious strategic mistakes because they are reactive and do not anticipate. Their vision is blurred by daily challenges, making them unable to broaden their focus.
If you are one of these leaders, you need to be aware of the mistakes others make and do your best to avoid them.
No matter what category of leader you fall into, the Corona virus has caused us all to reflect on our organizations in 3 phases:
The past that was - stable and relatively predictable, the present that is - hectic, unpredictable, unstable, and the future - a new normal we don't yet know.
The actions you take today as a leader will determine how or if your organization will survive. You will need to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important. You will need to prioritize and assign tasks to your middle and upper management. Knowing how and to whom to delegate day-to-day tasks is of paramount importance during this very critical time.
Managers must meet the urgent needs of the day - be the first choice of our customers, keep the supply lines flowing, take care of our employees to ensure business continuity and stability.
Leaders, on the other hand, must think about guiding their people and their organization through this crisis. Rethinking the vision of the organization, defining new priorities, refocusing energies and ensuring the commitment of their troops must be the first mission of the business leader.
With this in mind, I am sharing with you a summary of the mistakes made by some bosses as they struggle with this crisis. It is a summary of the last 3 months working directly with many organizations, in Tunisia and abroad.
- Mistake number one, and the most common one: focusing too much on micro-events. Of course, any crisis forces us to automatically focus on the events we need to control to stop the bleeding. It is a natural human survival reaction. But leaders must resist this urge by stepping back to see the big picture. They can then focus on the broader set of conditions for success by working closely with their managers to design an action plan and implement it. The key is to "trust" their managers to carry out the tasks at hand.
- The second most common mistake is to give in to the temptation of the "adrenaline rush": Rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in everything becomes an addiction. You think you are the most competent to manage the crisis. This is where leaders who have risen through the ranks feel most comfortable. It's their operational comfort zone. Good leaders need to take the long view and think about tomorrow, next month and next year. They must trust their teams by delegating tasks and supervising remotely.
- Third, there is the tendency to control everything and end up centralizing power instead of delegating tasks. Out of fear that things will get out of hand, leaders build too many checkpoints where everything must be validated by them, creating unnecessary obstacles and slowing down a process that is supposed to be fluid. Leaders should seek order and consistency, not control.
- The last and fourth mistake most leaders make is to forget the human factor. In these uncertain and ambiguous times, leaders tend to focus too much on performance indicators, sales, costs, profits and losses, forgetting the most important one: the human capital, without which there is no business and no future.
Leaders must unite their associates into a cohesive unit, explaining how each can contribute to a common mission. Leaders must trust their employees to make decisions and accept the mistakes that may come with them. Leaders must focus on the long term while allowing their managers to manage the short term.