Between March and May 2020, Orchard House Partners held ‘open house’ conversations with a range of organisationally and culturally diverse people from around the globe. The aim was to explore leadership challenges during the pandemic and to share ideas about how to contend with them.
As part of those conversations, we considered what might be the leadership questions that teams need to be answering to be at their best going forward. A pattern emerged and the top 5 questions were:
- How can I best lead in a situation or ecosystem that is constantly changing?
- How do we return to before, find a new normal and build back better?
- Which previously unquestioned behaviours in our organisation has this crisis exposed?
- Which new behaviours could we experiment with to see if they work in our new world?
- Which behaviours are emerging as essential for us to adopt as leaders in 2021?
How can I best lead in a situation or ecosystem that is constantly changing?
Even before COVID-19, leaders were well aware of the pressures of working in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. The pandemic has taken this to a whole new level. Leaders are faced with urgent imperatives to get their organisations back on track against a backdrop where the goal posts are constantly changing.
How do we return to before, find a new normal and build back better?
The unprecedented level of disruption organisations are facing has caused leadership teams to think differently and to evolve at speed. Previously ‘set in stone’ approaches, have fallen away – sometimes usefully. Leaders can now reflect on the organisational landscape and leverage this rare opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ ahead.
Which previously unquestioned behaviours in our organisation has this crisis exposed?
In stressful situations, our default behaviours are more easily seen. This is a chance to question leadership and organisational behaviours, which have both helped and hindered during the crisis. It is an important foundation for exploring how leaders want to ‘be’ in the future.
Which new behaviours could we experiment with to see if they work in our new world?
Leaders can now review what they know about the new world and discuss and agree behavioural ‘experiments’ that are most likely to support the immediate aims and needs of their organisations and their colleagues. Experiments have frequently been referred to in the ‘open house’ conversations that we have had. They have become a routine feature of our new agile existence where so much is new or unknown.
Which behaviours are emerging as essential for us to adopt as leaders in 2021?
Some leadership behaviours that are needed going forward might be a build on those previously adopted and some may be new behaviours that need to be learned. Either way, coming to an agreement about which they are, is going to be important for leadership teams. “Leaders get the culture they behave”.
With so much to think through, we concluded that now is the time to get teams back together so that they have the opportunity to do so in a facilitated and supportive way exploring these questions within their own unique context. Find out more here
This article was written by Orchard House Partner, Lisa Saunders