I ran a webinar yesterday for IESE Business School. I answered 4 of the questions during the webinar, but there were a lot more questions that we didn’t have time to cover in any depth. I’ve copied the questions here and will give my brief answer to each.
How to Lead in times of Great Uncertainty
What can I do personally to engage myself, my leadership team and the people throughout my organization to respond positively to this crisis?
What was covered in the session…
- My Personal Experience of Leading through a Crisis (2008)
- What is a Crisis?
- Communicating in a Crisis
- How will you benefit from this session?
- What do Leaders do?
- Clarity of Vision
- Certainty of Action
- Leadership is a Choice
- The Most Important Lesson I have learnt
- Practice, Habits and Mindset
- How to Shift my Mindset?
- Where am I focussing?
- How to Lead your people?
- How to continue this conversation?
What are your views on the link between true leadership in troubled times and transparency/openness/truthfulness? – Antonio Millán
If your motivating energy comes from external validation (income, fame, prestige, status) it becomes very difficult for you to keep moving when we hit a downturn.
It is easier to lead during difficult times if your own set of core values and the way you live your life is based on inner honesty, and not on external validation. If your self-esteem is linked to your wealth, size of house, revenues, number of employees… it will be low just when the people around you most need you to provide hope. If your self esteem and peace of mind come from inside yourself… and you are not chasing external validation… the time where you have energy and are a beacon of hope will be when it is most needed.
Rafa Nadal’s motivation doesn’t come from winning… it comes from playing great tennis. If he wins, but didn’t give his best… he is frustrated. If he loses, but he knows that he gave all that was his to give this day on the court… he is satisfied and motivated for tomorrow.
Do you also wake up at 5 am? Is this the best time for sitting and looking internally? – Francisco Castaño
Answered during the webinar… I don’t wake up early.
It is not the time you wake up that matters, it is what you do with your waking hours that really counts. Dan Sullivan says “do 3 important things” each day… then rest. It will force you to get clear on what is really important… and not spend each day filling your hours with busy-ness.
How do you think that leadership styles will be shaped after the Coronavirus stage? – Adnan Falah
Greater trust in people. Rapid digital transformation of all industries. Offices will become meeting areas and clubhouses for the social life of the company, not for getting work done… which will be done more and more in remote.
Do companies urgently need a re-organization to cope with the change? (many working at home, social distancing, etc.) – Antonio Mata (Youtube)
Yes. More trust of people. More communication of why we work, what is important… and trusting people to be disciplined in focussing their time and energy on what matters.
The founder of Braun, Max Braun had a requirement that all communications in the company answered the 5 Questions: Who, Why, What, How, When. If any member of the organisation did not address each of the 5 questions he would be sanctioned by Max, and repeat offenders were asked to find another organisation for their work.
If leaders are able to communicate not just what they want done… but why it is important, what is the objective, who is involved and impacted, when it is needed to be completed – then people can be far more creative and resourceful than when then are just told what to do.
Have you considered what it is that makes Face2Face (IRL) unique, compared to the online encounter Face2Face? – Julio Bascur
Trust. This is my question. How do we build trust through video. I have little doubt after the last 3 weeks of zoom calls that video can be very effective for communication – where there is already a strong bond of trust between individuals. My question for myself… and for anyone who has answers (not speculation, but direct experiential evidence of it working) is how to build trust that allows me to challenge people and create disruptive tension when I teach or lead.
What is the relationship between leadership and public speaking? – Monika Borgers
Leadership is two things:
- Seeing a change that is required in the world
- Bringing together the resources to effect the change
1 is about thinking deeply about who you are and where you are going and how that purpose relates to the organisation and society in which you live. It is about surrounding yourself with mentors and colleagues that raise you up and expect the best from you, and listening and learning from their life experiences and perspectives.
2 is about communication in a way that engages others to make your change something that becomes their change. 2 is built on being trustworthy, listening to people, conversation, public speaking and disciplined action. Public speaking is a small, but important, part of the whole that is leadership.
Tell us about the tele-leader. How can you lead with a virtual team? – Santiago Lopez
Ever since Ronald Reagan in the US, federal leaders are “tele-leaders”. Few americans will have had any offline engagement with state and federal political leaders. I have never met Boris Johnson, but I have a sense of who he is as a person and what he stands for. I have never met Pedro Sanchez, but I listen to his speeches and am interested in his vision for the future of Spain and Europe. I have never met any of the European leaders, but my life is shaped greatly by their decisions in Brussels. I worked for almost a decade at Accenture, and I only spent 120 minutes (at work) in those 10 years in direct conversation (in a group of 150 employees) with the CEO or senior leadership. Tele-leadership has been a reality for most global corporations and most developed societies for at least 50 years.
How can you lead with a virtual team? We had a recent webinar with Miquel Llado for the Vistage members in Spain where he addressed how to lead as an e-CEO. Check out the webinar here: Miquel Llado, the e-CEO (in spanish).
Do you think that after the crisis, companies will look for staff in the same manner as before? – Alejandro Díaz
I’m not sure I have any competence to speak to this question. My thoughts… electronic tracking tools will become more normal, and more sophisticated. This is a two edged sword. We will be able to track individuals in much more detail – hours, what they are actually doing, where they spend their time… can leaders be trusted to use this data for the common good? Or will it be used to micro-manage and control?
Government policy has a big impact here. The spanish government has effectively banned layoffs at the moment… and required that companies continue to pay full salaries. What will happen the moment that this policy stops? Companies will be far more risk averse in hiring… and will make even more extensive use of short term, freelance and temporary contracts.
Can you recognise good leaders in politics these days? Why do certain controversial leaders are top on the polls these weeks? – Ricardo R.
A little bit of representational democratic philosophy… a politically elected official is the representative of the majority view… not someone given the freedom to express their own individual opinion.
As with all human endeavours, this is a messy process and most elected officials have their own beliefs and opinions which they allow to shape their national policy making.
The role of politicians is to represent, not to lead. A danger in our society is the expectation that me, the average citizen, can sit back and let the national elected officials take care of the situation… this is a dangerous posture. Democracy works when their is high levels of education about the types of decisions that nations need to take about social security, public health, defense, security, economy, protection of minority groups, public/private initiative… and high involvement of citizens in day to day political life (in our schools, in our streets, in our towns, in our countries, in our countries and in the world).
Gandhi was not a politically elected leader when he made his most significant impacts upon the world. Nelson Mandela was not a politically elected leader until well after his personal leadership and sacrifices had impacted the world. These great leaders of the past led from principles, created vast change and then only afterwards were elected as trusted representatives. We are in danger when our politicians never led as individuals, and we expect them to take leadership of major national decisions.
I recommend the Coursera course that I completed a few years ago from Yale on The Moral Foundations of Political Systems.
This pandemic has brought to light the inadequacies of “conventional” management thinking (i.e. hyperefficiency and byperlean organizations). How can a leader then challenge these concepts? – JJ Moreno
I was a product of the MBA efficiency school when I first began as an entrepreneur. I had bought into the idea a 60% debt 40% equity optimal capital structure and eliminating all redundancies in my businesses… then in 2008 I lived through the bankrupcy of my business… and 9 years of dealing with the debts.
Today I have very little debt and believe in the Microsoft adage of having 1 year of cash available at all times. I regret some of my youthful advice to business owners… that they could use more debt and less equity to grow or to sustain their business. That came from a young man who had never lived through a downturn in the economy. Now, I’ve lived through 2 downturns as a business leader… and I will have buffers, multiple sources of capabilities and lots of cash around me as I run my business.
This fundamentally comes down to whether I am running my business for the short term (to sell it, or to hit a particular measure of success) or I am acting as a steward of my institution for the very long run (what is called the Infinite Game by Simon Sinek amongst others).