Leaderships Next Normal
I was speaking with a client last week and we had a good chuckle when she told me her crystal ball was broken. We were chatting about how things might evolve as more of our economy opens up. The only thing we could determine is the next eighteen months would be unlike anything we’d ever seen. Will the economy be shaped in a “J”, a “U”, a “W” or an “M”? No one really knows where the answer lies in this alphabet soup.
As we ended our Zoom, she shared “This isn’t about the “new normal”; it’s going to be all about how we shape the “next normal”.
She went on to say, “How the coming year unfolds is going to significantly impact the kind of leaders we need”. Her last comment stayed with me.
As the Phelps’ team works with clients to map out their leadership strategies, our approach has evolved. We’ve become scenario based and find the flexibility and responsiveness of this method supports the needs of differing client requirements. Our approach is anchored in four frames, each supported by a question to help you reconsider your leadership development needs.
Frame #1 – Do your homework: We’ve been scouring e-book summaries, devouring studies, tire-kicking predictions and watching webinars until our eyes burn! I’m sure you have too. This is the time to absorb and analyze every bit of intelligence you can lay your hands on. As you synthesize this data, find the threads that will help you weave your findings into your current strategy. Next, we pull these threads through into budding scenarios. We pay particular attention to how these threads intertwine with sector and organizational culture attributes.
As you’re making sense of this data, snap the missing puzzle piece into place by posing Frame #1’s question, “How are our current leaders being relentlessly responsive in applying their learning to the forces now impacting us?
Frame #2 – Be tenacious: Like you, I’ve been puzzling through a myriad of conflicting predictions in retail, sports and entertainment. The death of Neiman Marcus last week was certainly a jolt. But many analysts pointed out there were issues long before the pandemic. As quickly as we hear traditional retail like NM is dead, we learned about yesterday’s reopening of Hong Kong’s Hermes store – a store that rung up $2.7 million in just one day, representing the largest in-store daily sales figure, ever. That’s doesn’t sound like the end of retail. It sounds like a new beginning!
Frame #2’s question is “How can we support our leaders to develop an innovation culture to take advantage of current market conditions?”
Frame #3 – Engage in robust scenario planning and treat this process as you would managing a multi-responsive financial portfolio. The old ways of strategizing using SWOT and Michael Porter’s Five Forces, assume a stable environment from which you can plan. These models won’t work as well now and you want to give yourself as much agility and room to manoeuvre in peak and valley situations. Regional differences in epidemic impact, for example, are reminders that diverse views, those closest to the source of action are essential. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, no one size fits all.
Frame 3’s question urges the development of a key leadership capability: “How can we become more active listeners to gather insights and apply them to scenario development?”
Frame #4: Apply past learning to Next Normal scenarios. Although his April 1 opening was dashed, Michael Wekerle’s re-imagining of the venerated Toronto night club, the El Mocambo, anticipated more people would want to stay at home and be entertained. While he did expand physical capacity, he was prescient in building a live streaming model as part of his services for stay at home fans. Diversification in business modelling and channel marketing will be key to many organizational re-births.
Frame 4’s question is: “How are we helping our leaders develop foresighting and digital capabilities to apply learning to our own situation?
Mapping out the Next Normal for your organization will be crucial as the economy begins to reopen. The reality is that the kind of leader who brought you success in 2019 might not be the same leader you need for 2020 and beyond. Difficult questions will need to asked. Innovative scenarios will need to be created. We need the right people with the right capabilities leading these crucial portfolios.
As you consider the questions posed in the four frames, we hope you will join us on May 21 for a conversation on Emergence Leadership with Dr. Jill Birch, who will begin by sharing five key competencies leaders will want to embrace during and post pandemic. After Jill’s remarks, we open the conversation up to learn from each other and share how our organizations are preparing leaders to excel in a world that will be markedly different as we begin our emergence.
We look forward to seeing you then!