Leading in uncertain times

The pressures acting on organizations are many and growing. Between the general threats of our times (changing interest rates, inflation, geopolitical tensions, climate change) and issues more specific to business (changing consumer behaviours, labour shortages, disrupted supply chains, increased competition), companies are facing an unstable and unpredictable ecosystem.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, there has “never been a more challenging time to be a CEO or member of senior management.” Still, the best leaders understand the value of using certain approaches to get ahead. PIXCELL offers you some food for thought on how you can become one of those successful leaders.

 

What do successful senior executives do right?

In companies of all sizes and in all industries, you can easily apply these strategies to weather the storm.


Communicate

Outstanding leaders know that communication, honesty and transparency are essential, especially in uncertain times. Establishing a dialogue and regularly demonstrating genuine listening and openness will ensure that you make the most of your team’s strengths.

The proven benefits of good corporate communication include:

  • Fostering innovation and intrapreneurship
  • Increasing productivity
  • Facilitating information sharing and problem solving
  • Rallying teams around a common goal or purpose
  • Improving adherence to the corporate vision, even if it means making difficult decisions
  • Creating an inclusive and equitable culture

In an economy where no one can afford to lose their best employees or managers, it is important to build trust through clear and consistent communication, especially when leading from home. For example, if you need to take financial precautions, such as reducing certain budgets, postponing investments or cutting jobs, be honest and transparent with your employees. This will help them to understand that the decision is in the company’s best interest and therefore in their best interests too. 

Empower and mobilize employees

Great leaders know how to delegate, but more importantly, they know how to do it right.

Effective delegation means:

  • Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your management team
  • Leveraging complementary expertise
  • Training your executives to support their management skills
  • Giving your employees the autonomy and confidence to maximize performance
  • Providing adequate resources
  • Promoting a culture that values each employee’s innovation and contribution
  • Demonstrating emotional intelligence and encouraging it in your managers

In a review on leadership during uncertain times, McKinsey & Company shatters a myth about empowering employees and middle managers: empowerment does not mean hoping that your people will rise to the occasion if you leave them alone. Rather, it means coaching them effectively, according to their needs, and thereby investing in their performance.

Look to the long term

To increase profitability, sustainability or competitiveness, your company may need to undergo an operational, technological or cultural transformation. Any major change in business model or way of working requires a long-term vision and a high degree of agility along the way.

How to think long term:

  • Create a strategic plan that includes optimistic, realistic and pessimistic projections
  • Monitor the plan on an interim basis, adjusting strategies along the way
  • Designate managers for special projects, especially transformations, and clear their schedules as much as possible so that they can give their undivided attention to the task
  • Focus on scalable, adaptive solutions, especially in technology

 

Once again, during this transition, you will have to use invaluable tools such as communication, transparency and mobilization to avoid losing players along the way. Transformation requires hard work from everyone in the company, and that work may take some time to pay off. Throughout the process, you should encourage buy-in with strong messages that reaffirm your long-term vision.

 

The future: Embracing the unknown

 

No one can be sure what the next few years will bring for your company, your industry and our economy. In all likelihood, there is still a long road ahead. In this context, the most successful and innovative teams—and their leaders—will be those who demonstrate agility, openness and innovation in the face of adversity.

As an executive search firm, we are paying more and more attention to the soft skills and emotional intelligence of candidates when recruiting for management positions. In such difficult economic conditions, people skills and vision are what set true leaders apart.

François Piché-Roy, President and Senior Consultant, PIXCELL

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