Resetting the button in business

IT has been a rough couple of weeks. The stock market has tanked. Financial markets are in turmoil. Markets are shrinking. A recession looks likely, and the world is facing its worst pandemic of the century.

Robert Mandeya

Nevertheless, every crisis situation is an opportunity to reconfigure, adjust and improve systems. While most organisations were already experiencing great changes, the current global situation requires us to rapidly adapt to new ways of connecting and working together. The way people managers support teams must also change.

How have you been doing things pre Covid-19?

Context

Zimbabwe has extended the lockdown by another two weeks. The world remains uncertain and anxious with no solution insight to the crisis. The end of the two weeks will be a long and painful journey for individuals and business. For some it will be the end of the road and others it will be back to the drawing board, yet for others there will be no work to go back to.

Whichever way, the end of lockdown does not mean the end of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The threat of the pandemic is indefinite and will continue to hound people and business for a long time to come.

For instance, borders will not suddenly open for cross-border trading. Airlines will not suddenly resume flights. Workplaces will not suddenly open shop and so on.

However, the lockdown period has turned out to be an opportunity to reflect, introspect, plan and make better choices in life and business. It is indeed a defining moment as many work on their master action plans (MAPs) post-Covid-19 crisis. Some have even started implementing their MAPs for a new dawn.

Changing behaviours

Behaviour is always a result of self, others and context interacting as part of larger systems. The crisis has brought about new behaviours, such as social distancing, which in turn have impacted on working styles. People’s conduct at work has and will dramatically change as they try to maintain safe distances from one another.

The people’s conduct of business at the global arena will also be changing. Some have already started telecommuting or working from home through virtual platforms.

As evidence of the changing working styles, the Zoom platform has of late registered a market cap of US$44,5 billion from their US$18 billion in 2019.
On the other side, the airlines market cap has drastically slumped from US$78,1 billion in 2019 to the current record low of US$18,8 billion. New growth areas are emerging. What lessons can be drawn from these seismic shifts?

For those in the manufacturing industry social distancing has meant staggering work into shifts to avoid people converging at the work place in big groups. Since there is no timeframe to the current threat of the pandemic, this could be the new normal of doing things. The need for greater agility and more understanding of adaptive actions to make change in rapidly moving, complex systems has never been so real than today.

What are the implications of these trends to business leaders?

Monitoring market trends

Bouncing back from the crisis will be informed by one’s business experience and wisdom, guided by constant learning by doing, and the need to respond to continually changing environment and challenges in each business sector.

Leadership under the current circumstances is not about position in the organisational structure, but about responsibility, accountability and the achievement of mission even under changing circumstances and business terrain. Business models will have to change and come up with more flexible structures. The command and control structures will struggle.

Each sector in this case was affected differently by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Observing trends in each business sector globally and locally in the context of the current crisis will present vital information that can help to shape executives who inspire people, organise actions, develop strategy and respond to uncertainty with speed and effectiveness.

Thrown off course by the disastrous pandemic and global market shifts many of us find ourselves miles away from our original plans. The MAP tool compels executives to translate character and competence into leader actions so as to swiftly respond to emerging challenges and rising opportunities.
What are the current trends in your sector and how can they shape your new business strategy?

Internal focussing

With so many countries’ borders closed indefinitely to curtail spread of the pandemic many businesses whose operations were transnational will have to explore local opportunities and possibilities. The obtaining business environment demands executives to develop awareness of the current business environment and accordingly adjust their strategic plans to suit the current circumstances.

Strengthening local capacities, exploring local supplier and market diversity could unlock serious business potential leading to growth locally. This begins with identification of these local opportunities.

Internal focus also means internally looking within your organisation for solutions through cultivating innovativeness in your teams. Business leaders will have to reconsider strengthening their research and development departments or creating business intelligence units. Internal focus is no longer a choice, but a necessity if business is to bounce back to life.

What are the local opportunities in your business sector that you can take advantage of under current circumstances?
Resilience

Resilience is the ability to continue to function healthfully in spite of personal adversity, the various stresses of life, or even devastating crisis such as Covid-19. As we gradually come to terms with the realities of this catastrophe, for us to recover our lives and business, we need character, knowledge and action, all which the MAP tool provides.

Despite severe hardships and presence of at-risk factors, resilient leadership should develop in themselves and their teams coping skills that enable them to successfully lead their institutions to success under very difficult circumstances. Going forward companies need more entrepreneurially minded people.
Mandeya is a certified executive leadership coach, corporate education trainer and management consultant. — robert@lird.co.zw/ or info@lird.co.zw, Facebook: @lirdzim and Mobile/WhatsApp: +263 719 466 925

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