Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others. - John Maxwell
An experience that has really stuck in my mind was over a decade ago when I was first asked to work as a consultant for the United Nations. One of my first assignments was at the UN headquarters in New York City. I found myself in a room full of people who had a military background and they kept referring to this term VUCA again and again and especially making reference to the challenges of living in a VUCA world. I hadn’t come across this before and I was really curious to find out what it meant.
As it transpired, VUCA derives from a military acronym that describes a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. An accurate description for the kind of chaos that can make it very difficult to cope well. VUCA seemed a reasonable description of the world way back then, however, given the mammoth changes that have been triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, VUCA is a very apt summary of what we are all experiencing right now.
We Are Living in Unprecedented Times
The word "unprecedented" seems to have taken centre stage over the last few months.
With the entire globe weathering coronavirus, we are certainly in uncharted territory. Humanity has, of course, seen other seismic events, however not many of us have experienced anything quite like this before.
Throughout my career I have worked with a diverse collection of global organizations supporting people to be more resilient and agile. I am certainly observing a cacophony of emotions in people as a direct result of the current situation. Fear, anxiety and even anger are rife and heightened stress could potentially have a damaging impact on people’s mental health and this an increasing concern. Living in the land of uncertainty can be very difficult and a lack of control can be frustrating, even frightening.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
A great deal of discussion and speculation seems to focus on trying to predict what the "New Normal" will be and one thing that seems certain is that we won't be reverting to how things were before. Apart from the obvious chaos and disruption, this crisis will also deliver many opportunities. In a business context, success will be for those who creatively utilize the changes being forced upon them to explore and invent new ways of working, as well as evolving new business models.
I truly believe that the most resilient and agile will hold the competitive advantage. Agility will ensure speed of responsiveness in capturing new opportunities, and resilience will ensure the ability to recover well from setbacks and grow stronger as a result of the experience.
Despite the turbulence, this is also the perfect opportunity for leaders to start making the positive changes that will help their teams to thrive in the future.The true pioneers will be those who use this time constructively to reflect, learn and set in motion those positive leadership skills. This will help them to pave the way to identify and capture all the opportunities as they grow in the "New Normal."
Over the last few months I have created a model that identifies five key behaviors, based on extensive research and observation through working with people across sectors. The ethos behind the work I have been doing is to help people to be fit for the future and more empowered to rise to the challenges ahead. This model is called "Mindfit" and focuses on five key enablers that incorporate resilience, curiosity, flexibility, creativity and kindness.
During the summer I have had the absolute pleasure of working in partnership with Cornerstone Studios to develop a program based on my "Mindfit" model called "Empowering Minds."
The program focuses on providing leaders with the confidence, courage and ability to empower high-performing teams. This starts by giving each individual within the team the tools they need to support and nurture their own ability to operate from a place of strength. This is how they will successfully navigate and embrace the "New Normal," whatever that will look like.
In times of crisis, uncertainty and disruption, a strong and empowered team will be the bedrock on which every business can thrive. A human-centric emphasis and ensuring the right conditions for people to operate from a place of strength need to be top of the agenda for every successful organization. This is essential in both the shorter and the longer term.
Empowering Teams to Be Fit for the Future
Now is the time to really get teams in tip-top shape so they can build the relevant skills and behaviors and develop the confidence to know that they are well equipped to be ready for anything.
"Empowering Minds," being "Mindfit" and getting teams fit for the future is essentially about the following:
A "Resilient Mind" has the strength to recover well after a setback.
A "Curious Mind" faces problems with a desire to explore and understand by asking the right kind of questions.
A "Flexible Mind" can let go of the original plan and switch tasks when needed.
A "Creative Mind" unleashes fresh thinking, new ideas and is solution focused.
A "Kind Mind" forms connections with their team, community, and environment to make a positive impact.
Going forward, I will be continuing this series of blogs and will focus on each "Mind" in turn and take a deeper dive into each one. This series of blogs is all about equipping leaders with tools to support their teams in being ready for anything and Mindfit.