What does it actually mean to lead in difficult times? There's an old saying that true leadership shows up in times of crisis. When the sun is not shining, when there are storms to be overcome.
I would only agree with this to a limited extent. Because it takes a lot to set the sails properly when the wind comes from behind. In any case, I always find it remarkable how many good opportunities are missed when all doors are open. Some companies extend their competitive edge massively, especially in good times - when everyone can actually afford to do it.
Here comes the most important truth: the biggest difference in success never comes from the outside, but always from the inside. With the right leadership, you can almost always be massively more successful than the average person, no matter what is going on outside.
Exponential growth has currently become very prominent with the spread of the coronavirus: a small cause (the bartender in Ischgl in Austria) had an exponential effect (thousands of infected people who, in turn, infected thousands).
So far so clear. The problem is that our brain has enormous difficulty processing exponential connections. Instinctively, we always try to draw linear conclusions. This is where the gigantic misconceptions at the beginning of the corona spread came from (and some heads of state have still not understood it today).
This insight is extremely relevant for successful leadership. The most successful organizations are led with exponential leadership. The less successful ones, however, think linear.
If this seems too abstract to you now, here are a few examples of how you can leverage the exponential potential for your team or company and thereby create a considerable competitive advantage:
A lot has already been written about the effects on leadership and on our teamwork in organizations as a result of the corona challenges. One question keeps coming up: What will change positively in our leadership and our culture in the long term?
“The world won’t end like this,” Swedish singer Zarah Leander once sang. That statement is, of course, only partly true. With every profound change, a part of the old world goes under, and only because of that can new things be created quickly.
If it happens intentionally, it is called “creative destruction.” But what if it happens unintentionally? Then it’s called “Black Swan,” as Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote in his book of the same name some time ago.
The fascinating thing is that for the vast majority of those who witness a profound change, life goes on somehow, and in a short time for many even better than before. This applies to people as well as to companies. However, some are left behind.
Here comes the good news: it is largely in your hands. Provided you remain capable of acting at all (and most people do), you can decide for yourself whether you will do better or worse afterward the change.
In times of crisis, it becomes especially obvious how strong our inner resistance to change is. We should not fool ourselves—we all carry these obstacles within us.
The great art in any transformation—whether jointly through projects or individually through coaching—is to transform the energy of resistance into an energy of change.
Does this sound too theoretical? Well, we are currently witnessing amazing demonstrations of how this works in real life. Through COVID-19, most people have realized relatively quickly (though some slowly) that opposition against change is of little use. Those who direct their energy toward positive change will win. That is also the subject of my recent video training (more details here).
Even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I had already written about what we could learn from him ( click here). By that, I do not mean his content and behavior but how he manages to be successful by his own standards.
As the saying goes, anyone can serve as a role model, even for how not to do something.
Over the course of the corona pandemic, Donald Trump has shown five strategies for retaining power. We can all use the fourth and fifth as a positive starting point for our own leadership:
Yes, we are living in challenging times. But it’s in difficult periods that you can see who’s getting ahead as a leader and who’s getting stuck.
It’s a simple truth that if ten companies or teams are hit by an extreme challenge, there will almost always be one or two that benefit from it in the end. What is the decisive factor for this success in difficult times? You guessed it: the mindset of the leaders and the entire team.
Our thoughts and beliefs determine our decisions and actions, whether we like it or not. Because this factor is so important, I will be conducting a live webinar about it. Click here for more information and registration.
Every crisis has lessons, and so does this one. Here are three of the most important lessons from my perspective:
“That’s all easy to say,” you may think, “but how does that help me with our daily craziness?”
In my workshops, I am always confronted with opposition and astonishment when I make it clear that we make all decisions one hundred percent emotionally (and then justify them rationally). Furthermore, the strongest motivation for decisions is the avoidance or reduction of “pain,” especially anticipated pain.
Ambition and pleasure always come second when making decisions. So does logic. Salespeople need to know this.
These facts, proven by countless studies, are currently receiving blatant and tragic confirmation from the novel coronavirus and the decisions associated with it. Even in Switzerland, shelves of pasta and rice are being bought up out of fear. Unbelievable!
You can use the mechanisms that become visible in this process in a positive way for your business and leadership at any time if you want to get people to act:
Suddenly, it was there, out of the blue: the virus, the fear, the interruption of supply chains, the massive expansion of home-based work, and much more. Here is the crucial question: do you see these surprises as a threat or as an opportunity?
Behind that question is the fact that, in principle, you can see any threat as an opportunity and vice versa. But there is more to it than that. The really exciting thing is that many people only seize opportunities for massive change when there is a massive threat.
It’s all a question of mindset. While some, like the famous dear, freeze in the headlights, others seize the opportunity and use an uncomfortable situation to their advantage.
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