We are living in an era of disruption, in which rapid technological change demands a radical rethink of the ways we do business and how we live our lives. Most leaders know that even their best-made plans are good for only as long as it takes the ink on these documents to dry.
A key indicator of our effectiveness as leaders lies not only in how we manage our vision and strategy, but in how we deal with unexpected developments – both those that we welcome and those that are confronting. Leaders who are able to deal with the curveballs life throws their way are usually better equipped when it comes to the big shifts. They are more agile.
Are you open to new opportunities and able to harness the potential within unexpected events? Are you an early adopter or do you regard the rapidly changing environment merely as a nuisance? I’m capable of both reactions.
Even Visions Can Be Disruptive
Disruptions come in many forms. Some of them excite and inspire us. Your organisational vision can propel you to a new future. Yet no matter how great your initial enthusiasm for this vision, achieving it inevitably means new challenges that will demand you learn as you go.
Ash Maurya, the author of Running Lean, reports that while most start-ups fail, 66% of those that succeed take a radical change of direction at some point. Taking a deep breath, they rethink and overhaul their initial product design. More often than not, their initial ideas – the place where it all began, had been precious to them.
Last year my colleague Vicki Henricks and I worked with business mentors who supported us in our launch of the Global Coaching Institute. They were masters in harnessing the potential within disruptive environments. It was quite a journey. Every program, every premise, every assumption we held dear was laid out before us, so we could take a fresh look. It’s an exciting and rigorous process that surfaced every thread of attachment that tied me to the workshops and resources I’d played a role in writing.
It took committed team work to get through the seemingly relentless process of testing and challenging our ideas. More than once I questioned why we were putting ourselves through it. The answer? Because we knew deep down that start-ups and mature businesses that can’t face up to radically revamping their favoured assumptions and practices, put their enterprises at risk. We teach this to coaches and business leaders. This was our opportunity to walk the talk.
What sustained us? A willingness – albeit delayed and reluctant on occasions – to open up to the disruption.
Vicki and I both hold a fundamental commitment to growth. We know that means going beyond what we currently know or have experienced and that this can bring discomfort. We were also able to be patient with each other and to give each other a nudge when it was needed.
So how do you deal with disruption?
What’s your attitude to it?
What influences your attitude? When do you shut down and when do you open up?
What works for you?