This segment of REAL Leadership is dedicated to “Adapt”: the action or process of adjusting to new conditions.
Good leaders and managers understand well the need to be adaptable. The harsh reality of nature and business is that those who do not or cannot adapt to changing conditions do not survive. The bigger the change the bigger the adjustments needed. COVID-19 is one of those paradigm altering events that is significantly impacting many markets and business models.
Times like these make “Adapt” an especially important attribute for business leaders and managers to focus on today. Business leaders need to consider adaptability in two important areas. They need to adapt their “personal leadership style” and they need to ensure their businesses are adapting to the harsh reality of the rapidly changing business environment.
Adapting your Communication Style
Adapting your personal Leadership Style is important, and I could limit today’s segment to that topic alone. However, leaders also need to be adept at adapting communication and leadership styles for different individuals and groups with whom they communicate. Here are some points to consider:
Communicating effectively during uncertain times is of paramount importance to business success. It’s vitally important to keep the lines of communication open with employees, suppliers, customers and clients and others. Refer to the “Relate” and “Engage” segments I sent you previously for suggestions in these areas.
Changes which require significant adaptations in the business, (such as changing market conditions, consumer preferences, production shifts etc.), bring additional communication challenges. You need to be prepared to adapt your communication style to the changing circumstances.
Effective communication is not one size fits all. People hear and listen better when you speak to them in the communication style which aligns best with them and their style. When you are speaking in group environments, be aware of your audience’s communication style. And when you are in a group environment you may need to consciously adapt throughout.
Here is a recap of the main communication styles and primary characteristics .(from DISC).
- Dominance: Fast Paced, Task-Oriented, Results Driven
- Influence: Engaging, Flexible, Optimistic
- Steadiness: Stability, Patience, Great Listening Skills
- Compliance: Data Driven, Methodical, Risk Averse
Adapting your Leadership Style
How would you describe your natural leadership style? Is it Autocratic, Transformative, Hands-On, Participative, Other? What is the best leadership style for your organization in the current situation? The answer is simple: adapt your leadership style to the one that best balances the current and anticipated challenges of your business environment and engaging your employees to achieve a common goal.
You’ve probably found yourself using various leadership styles in the last few months. You may have found yourself having to use styles that are not your “go to” or “norm”. You might have felt uncomfortable, like wearing clothes that don’t quite fit. Don’t worry, this is all okay.
Knowing when you need to adapt your leadership style and consciously doing so, demonstrates leadership that is aware and focused on determining what approach will work best. Be open and transparent in your communications. Explain when a different approach is called for. This is especially helpful if you find yourself adapting more than usual or having to adapt into styles that are very different from your norm.
Adapting your Business
Now to get to the Business side of adapting. How you answer these questions may reveal areas in your business that require adaptations, which in turn affect your people, processes, and procedures. Answers to these questions and the implications for change in the business will require further communication with your employees, customers, and suppliers.
You might find it helpful to share these questions with your direct reports, managers, and team members to get their input and ideas. The important outcome is to identify which areas in the Business require the greatest adaptation and to identify the urgency and priority of the adaptation. Once you have identified those areas, you can then build out a plan and take action.
This strategic thinking process is critical time set aside to work on the business (not in it) and is vital to long-term success. Updating your SWOT is also helpful in this process to give a different perspective. This is especially the case if the responses to the 10 questions below demonstrate an impact to your business which you must be aware of.
10 Questions – Managing your Business through Covid-19 and Beyond
- What are your clients/customers priorities now, have they changed? Do you expect them to change?
- How are you staying engaged with your existing clients/customers and prospects?
- What are you tracking to indicate your clients/customers are beginning activities that will lead to sales?
- What are your competitors doing now, have they changed? Do you expect them to change?
- What will competitors do if they get desperate?
- If you have reduced your business in response to demand changes or government mandate, what level of client/customer demand will you need to resume operations, and do you have flexibility to scale up or bring back in stages.
- What new markets or products/services have you identified in the last few weeks or from this pandemic which will be good opportunities to consider for business growth?
- Which existing products/services have you identified which will not be required or will not have the same level of demand as before? What needs to be considered to adjust your business operations to align to this new reality and when?
- How have your client’s/customer’s buying behaviours changed? How long will this persist? Considering your responses to the questions above, how will you adapt your business model?
- What changes to your staffing levels (could be role and responsibility changes as well) will you need to make to adapt and align to the new reality you foresee?
My Quick SWOT Framework to Get You Started.
This is the time to reflect on what you need to “Adapt” in your business to ensure ongoing viability, longevity and long-term growth and success. How satisfied are you with your current situation and how you are adapting to a rapidly changing environment and increasing uncertainty? Are you satisfied with how your business is adapting?
If you believe changes are needed in your business, that there is room for improvement, the first step is to work through the 10 Questions and the S.W.O.T. with input from your team. Then identify one action item from each S.W.O.T. category. Identify the most important thing you need to work on right away, the thing that you think will have the most impact on the future of your business. Then decide on an action plan and execute that plan. Then rinse and repeat. I am here to help in any way I can. Don’t hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best and please be safe and healthy!