I've been a leader at Cornerstone through many challenging times — the financial crisis of 2008, Brexit, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine. I've seen the world and our organization adapt and change to meet these shifts.
As a business leader during these times, I've learned that you have to step up to any challenge, no matter how grave, for the sake of your workforce. Here are three key lessons I've learned along the way when it comes to leading through disruption.
1) Take the high ground
Being seen and heard and keeping communication lines open so that employees and stakeholders feel an element of comfort is crucial. Virtual meetings and communication tools have made it easier to be the visible leader that your people want.
If an event has a direct impact on your company and your people, it's vital to keep communication as regular as possible. Depending on the circumstances, daily, weekly, monthly or ad-hoc updates or meetings can calm anxieties among your workforce.
2) Not all approaches work for all regions
As the Chief International Officer at Cornerstone, I've learned that not every approach or solution works for every region. This requires a "glocal" approach. Glocal means you're focused on ensuring global effectiveness but with local relevancy. It's an effective way to deal with global disruption.
But to do this, you need to get the communication pathways among countries in a solid, transparent position. You hire local talent so they can be a part of your global journey, so making sure the decision-making happens at a local level is crucial.
3) Identifying "probortunities"
Most leaders want to be viewed as superheroes who can solve problems in the blink of an eye, but the reality is that every disruption is unique. Identifying probortunities (problems that can be viewed as opportunities) can help you understand each issue in a crisis and determine the most suitable strategy for addressing them.
While we cannot predict the next global disruption, I believe we're better prepared as leaders to optimize agility and readiness across people and business.
We're more resilient as we've learned and grown from the experiences. We know it's important to position ourselves front and center and keep communication open and transparent. We've proven that by adopting a glocal approach in navigating disruptions, we remain in touch, relevant and on strategy.
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