We live in the age of the ‘Black-Swans’. All organizations are vulnerable to events that are neither predictable nor are these events within their realms of control.
The difference between the world we experienced and the world we anticipate to live in the future is contrasted by the presence of the ‘black swan’ events. ‘Black Swans’ will now appear with fair regularity in the new world we see from the windscreen. A ‘White Swan’ steady-state will actually be a rarity and leaders will have to actuate their organizational future from that perspective.
“Leadership ask in this transiting paradigm has shifted beyond the space of leadership being asked only to focus on ‘Organizational Excellence’. That was an ask of the times bygone and which will not possibly appear again.”
Two new competencies position themselves as they emerge in the new context that will determine successful leadership hall-marks for new leaders.
First is the ability of Leadership to ‘Recognize the Plot’, this involves understanding vulnerabilities of organizations and connecting the environmental dots and evidence to predict and foretell ahead of time, the black swan events that would be likely to hit their businesses.
‘Recognising the Plot’ as a leadership capability includes having deep insights to recognize the disjointed evidence and then stitching them together to see the big plot. We see pieces of evidence strewn all around but our untrained mind refuses to connect the dots and stitch them into a common plot. The narrative thus goes missing. The exasperated exclamation – ” only if I had seriously thought about it, I would have known “. This will singularly disqualify leaders from continuing in their leadership roles. Reading the unwritten script in ambiguity will determine future leadership success.
Second, is Leadership’s ability to plan and manage Crisis and ‘Adversities’ effectively with least hits, losses & costs to business whilst continuing to focus on Operating Excellence, which is a given.
Leaders in the new paradigm cannot manage in the same old way that they were so doing in steady times. When Crisis or Adverse events strike, teams look up to their leadership to lead them differently and deliver them from the chaos with the least cost.
Leadership therefore in this context, needs to:
1. Understand the Nature of the Threat/ Impact
Black Swan events are largely traumatic. They tend to undermine the belief systems that give meaning and value to human experiences. When a crisis hits, the general tendency is to reject the belief that such crisis could also hit you, your business, or your sector!!! But that is not helpful. The first step in addressing the crisis is recognizing and accepting the new traumatic possibilities. ‘Carona’ could hit India, could hit your city – say Mumbai and could affect you as an individual. Unless you accept that reality, you will not be able to manage the crisis at your hands, effectively.
2. Plan for Crisis
A process of comprehensive, mission-driven planning is required that grows from and reinforces the Core Competitive position of the Corporation. Likely threatening scenarios are forecasted and serious ground level comprehensive plans are made which could go to action if and when such a traumatic contingency were to ever hit the business.
3. Adapt to the Situation on the Run
A key to the effective management of crisis is realizing the importance of leveraging what you have planned for and modifying it to make it relevant and applicable to the real adverse event that may have hit the business. There is no sense in creating totally new solutions that may just drain resources, create confusion, and undermine focus when the real crisis hits.
4. Live the Experience of Team Members
Front lines are critical. Effective crisis managers quickly move on to the front line to provide directions and resolve. Such traumas hit the team members in three zones:
- Attacks them physically, emotionally and psychologically. Issues of survival and safety need thus to be handled, very cautiously.
- Creates a sense of disbelief, culpability and guilt. Focus should therefore be to reassure the impacted team to quickly return to productive and gratifying life.
- This is a stage of reconnection with ordinary life and the leader has to provide therapeutic offerings to reintegrate the impacted team members once again into that community of common shared purpose.
Serious work in the space of these two new competencies is pending. Organizations need to master the art of perfect landing when real-time disasters & crisis hit in vulnerable and volatile times like the one that we are currently experiencing.
New Leadership frame-work has to be redefined and new leaders accordingly for the black swan world need to be quickly developed & readied to succeed in the future.
Will we be able to do reach the higher unknown destinations??? … Re-energize the teams to go for the new horizons?? Ofcourse, we will be able to do that. And this reminds me of these beautiful motivational lines I had read somewhere:
“Fateh hogey woh naye mukaam- tu apni koshish to karr ke to dekh, Phir jalenge woh bhujey chirag – tu chingari bann ke to dekh”
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