Power Tools In Ambiguity: Perspective & Preparation

Lisa Pierosara

March 22, 2020

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Though we are faced with uncertainty, we can stand firm in the truth that we are here, we are capable, and we now have the gift of extra time. Reduced commute time, Less distraction as people lay lower than usual. We can make a choice to embrace opportunity and decide how we will use the extra time. My experience with hundreds of leaders leads me to conclude that above all else, a positive outlook can be the most important predictor of resilience. We can also leverage two tools of power in times of change: perspective and preparation.

How many of you were ready for this new form of self-leadership? Many of us are leading and inspiring teams remotely. Many of us are needing to manage ourselves in a new independent way. Many of us are using new technologies for the first time to stay in touch with our clients and customers. The wisest of leaders are leading with their strengths (and they are highly self-aware to know what those are) , they are staying anchored to their vision and long term purposes, using time for strategy, and digging into the strength of their network to get a pulse check on the market and best practices. They are utilizing a powerful weapon in their arsenal -- seeking perspective.

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed"

As the proverb teaches, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. This wisdom is based in humility. To seek counsel, to seek perspective, to ask questions, to be curious about others' success and thoughts takes a measure of vulnerability. It is to admit that we don't know it all, that we may be stuck or doing it wrong, that we are open to new ideas which may be better than ours.

Our world today has the technological advantage of learning from all kinds of different people and research sources, listening to a whole host of opinions, so that our own go-forward stance or actions can be founded in data and diversity of thought. Perspective is fundamental to growth.

We grow even more when it rains. In this unexpected rainstorm, we are all caught off- guard to varying degrees. One client of mine is in the middle of downsizing their team and now has to do it more remotely. Another client is forced to postpone a landmark event indefinitely. Others still are about to lose thousands of dollars in revenue due to a risk- averse client base. They are questioning their strengths, their motivation, their resources.

Our best course of action in any situation or downturn is simple. We need to make time to stop and reflect, re-asses, learn from our mistakes and take the learning into our next season. Teams who score highest in adaptability know how to unlearn and relearn as they investigate a problem. Global human capital firm KornFerry calls this Learning Agility.

How agile are you in learning the "right" lessons from your situation and using them for future problems and success? How are you using this time to reflect on how this change is truly impacting you or your business, gathering the troops to reassess and plan for the future so that you are better prepared for crisis or unexpected shifts? What new preparations are you making to anticipate change, to hedge future damage?

Some of you possess these strengths and utilize them in your day to day jobs, anticipating client and project needs. These are extremely marketable attributes, as employers seek candidates who know how to anticipate needs, are open to diverse perspective, and have the self-discipline of daily preparation practices.

The second most important asset in crisis is preparation. One could argue this extends to the shortage of TP and canned beans on shelves, but I am referring less to a knee-jerk reaction in panic mode to what just presented itself, and more to a measured, strategic approach, where the habit of preparation is built over time once you have anticipated what might occur one day. Building the discipline of preparation begins with the habit of regular, meaningful review.

These Five Questions can guide a meaningful hour or a two-day offsite with your team.

1/ What is working?
2/ What is weak?
3/ Dan Pink's Hot Shot Question: What would a Hot Shot come in here and change? See PinkCast.
4/ Why are we here again? (purpose and vision review)
5/ What's the tweak we need to make?

Other measures of strategic preparation include contingency planning, succession planning and crisis management plans, but without vision, organizations fail at preparing for the future. Let's focus on question #4 above. Begin with the end in mind is Stephen Covey's famous second Habit of Highly Effective People. When faced with crisis, organizations will often realize that their vision was not strong enough to remain the beacon to guide them through.

Vision is a necessary piece of preparation. It is the glue that holds all actions together. It ensures that effectiveness (doing the right things) is more valuable than efficiency alone (merely doing things right). And vision is the very priority that our strongest leaders communicate in times of disruption.

Preparing ourselves for what might be ahead is what our wisest counselors have taught us growing up: put aside 10% of your income for savings, rebuild the muscle from your injury slowly and consistently, have some homemade chicken broth in the freezer for when you get sick, teach your kids in the way they should go to be responsible citizens who see and care, build a balanced portfolio or nest-egg for retirement. Slowly, simply, steadily.

Clients are rebuilding their resumes as we speak to prepare for future work, to ensure they are highlighting achievements from their current jobs in mastering ambiguity, facilitating a team through change, and needs anticipation. They'll be more prepared for seeking new work with employers who have navigated change and who are now more sensitive to these attributes in candidates.

Preparation brings steadfastness, a quality that is anchored in a belief in something true and real and worthy. Steadfastness produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character, and a strong character produces hope. The greatest of leaders have enacted these strengths with a sense of humility as they seek perspective, prepare their troops for unexpected shifts, and focus us on the hope of a well-strategized future.

#agility #preparation #perspective #emergence #needs anticipation #ambiguity

Don't miss Toronto's virtual meeting on March 30, 2020.

About the author:
Lisa Pierosara
is a Professional Certified Coach and certified Effectiveness Advisor. Her corporate background spans telecom, retail and CPG sectors. Her career advisory, executive coaching and leadership training experience has powered her desire to help people build the disciplines to become better leaders, especially those underrepresented. Lisa is co-Director of the WITI Toronto Chapter and runs a mentorship program for women in her community

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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