Leaders don’t wait for a New Normal. They build it

As of today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has over 33,000 research articles in its COVID-19 data resource library.

As medical research around the world continues its effort to understand and overcome the challenges presented by this novel virus, new information will continue to be made public on a daily basis thereby perpetually shifting our understanding and perception of what tomorrow will look like. But there’s one thing we know for certain about our future – things will be different.

The current state of transition to a “New Normal” is reflected in our world of sales, marketing and customer experience development. While the health and well-being of our communities will always be the priority, changes in consumer behavior is still something brands must consider as they adjust their strategic positioning to fit within the “New Normal” competitive marketplace.

So, what’s the best way to approach strategic brand positioning in a world that continues to change?

The answer is found in being proactive and searching for what CAN be done. Every organization exists within its own reality based on pre-existing variables. Some brands have more resources than others. Some brands have a long-standing market presence while some are new to the scene. The good news is, regardless of where you stand today, there are plenty of ways to build a solid foundation for continued growth moving forward.

Now, it’s important for proactivity to be harnessed within a strategic framework to guide decision making. Both under-reacting and over-reacting as market conditions change are equally dangerous because maintaining customer confidence and trust is vital during times of market volatility. Somewhere between doing nothing and doing too much is the sweet-spot; taking strategic action aligned with the changing wants and needs of customers to establish oneself as an industry leader.

In other words, don’t sit back and wait for the “New Normal” to take shape. Work together with customers and build it for yourselves.

To get things started, clarify your objective. While your team’s overall goal may appear straight forward, it’s vital to boil down generalized goals into quantifiable points of focus. If your overall research question has underlying sub-questions, then you need to keep drilling down to the core of the matter. That way, measuring success will have an initial benchmark and you’ll establish the steps needed to get where you’re going.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be digging deep into what it means to be proactive during times of uncertainty and approaching this crisis-turned-opportunity with strategic purpose and authenticity.

Economies and Business Leaders cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change, political instability and a pandemic like Covid-19 and therefore cannot isolate themselves from changes. Different Leadership Behaviours and Practices are required to help us win in uncertain times. Post pandemic, the canvas is vast, and opportunities are unlimited.

Trust, Courage and Quality of Decisions:
Making quality decisions can be challenging with limited time and information. Being totally correct all the time is no longer a realistic goal. Instead, it is about being correct enough on the decision to move ahead and execute.

Courage means being a champion of an idea or a course of action. It sometimes means staking out a tough and lonely position.Leaders who build trust will get more productivity – whether it is with your suppliers, vendors or your own employees.

Being Tech Savvy and Leading towards a Contactless World:
Disruptive technologies are entering the market at breakneck speed. We need to focus on the right skill mix with fit for purpose rather than acquire everything in the race towards digitization. As we move towards a contactless way of working, digitalisation as we know it will undergo a major shift, and leaders need to be ready to embrace and adapt to it.

Managing Risk and Complexity with Ambiguity:
Leaders face two competing demands: One, they must take risks in order to meet today’s challenges and the other, they must adapt to what and how things get done in order to thrive in Covid-19 world.

Solving problems and getting things done in this volatile context means adjusting your approach – to both problem and people – to match changing conditions. Leaders need to have a mindset geared to view uncertainty as the new normal and be better prepared to view that unknown as an opportunity to capitalize on.

Leading with a Transformation Mindset v/s Change Mindset:
We are in times of transformation, not just change. It creates a new context which is futuristic and orients us towards being agile. Transformation calls for looking at businesses with a different lens – whether it is skills, roles, costs, structures or strategies. Transformation comes from within and ensures that you are always two steps ahead of the curve.

Driving the Best-Cost Mindset through Innovation:

Leaders are likely to face challenges in maintaining the financial health of their organisations. A successful leader does not only understand finance, but also knows how to incorporate a financial thinking lens into every major decision. At this point it is important to enable employees to have a mindset of ‘my money’ and drive the best-cost culture rather than just top down management actions.

Leadership Practices

Leading the shift from work-life balance to work-life blend and its future fall out:
In the last few months itself, the way we work has undergone a seismic shift. Right from the way our offices and homes are structured, to the benefits we can avail of are changing.

As work from home becomes the new normal, there is a blend of work-life – with timings, policies, infrastructure, ergonomics etc all contributing to this change. It is now normal to have your kids accidentally walk into your zoom meetings and to meet your colleagues’ spouses in the background when an important negotiation is going on! And it is here to stay. Those who can adapt quickly, practise planning, prioritization and proactiveness will succeed at this new work-life blend.

Equal Opportunities and Hope for an Ignored Demographic:
With different business models and opportunities, a new demographic will now get a level-playing field in the workforce. Housewives, people with disabilities, retired talent from Class B&C Towns etc, who were not centre-stage earlier, will no longer be ‘disqualified’ and will now enter mainstream employment. They will contribute to building a competitive edge for organisations and as leaders, we need to be ready to tap this talent and give them the right opportunities to help businesses succeed.

HR Leading Inevitable Actions:
In the Covid-19 situation, some tough actions are inevitable for the HR leaders across industries. Many of themare considering lay-offs, reduction of permanent workforce, salary freeze, across the board salary cuts, differentiated salary cuts, curtailing benefits, reducing PF contributions, more of variable and incentives, leveraging paid and unpaid leaves, hiring freeze, delayed joining, reduced work hours etc. Tough times call for tough, and inevitable measures.

Managing Fear and Anxiety in Uncertain Times:
With a rising sense of fear and anxiety amongst employees, organisations will have to adopt different methods to create a positive and healthy ecosystem where employees can thrive. Openness and frequency of different communication platforms, access to employee assistance programmes, renewed focus on health and wellness initiatives – they all create a support system for employees to rely on.

While organisations and leaders across the world are striving to create a new normal, and bring life back to normalcy, one element will be still out of their reach – the dilemmas faced by employees who are constantly battling tough choices between family safety and commitment to their organisation.

Each day in this rapidly uncertain situation brings with it a new set of choices. And during these testing times, leaders and especially HR leaders can help employees bring out the best in them, earn long-term trust and establish organisational credibility.

Leadership is the scarcest resource in our world today. To be better leaders, we need to focus on the purpose and values of the organizations we lead. These are the antidotes to our world we face today. We want to develop the organization we lead to be high performance.

This requires the organization have a single leadership model, which is pervasive in the organization, becomes a part of the culture and vocabulary of the organization.
Any successful CEO will tell you that the people you hire can make or break your company. So what are the top traits hiring managers need to look for, and how do they spot them in a candidate?

According to Elon Musk, it’s not about what school you went to or your level of education. “There’s no need even to have a college degree at all, or even high school,” the Tesla CEO said during a 2014 interview with Auto Bild.
Instead, Musk looks for “evidence of exceptional ability” when it comes to hiring. “If there’s a track record of exceptional achievement, then it’s likely that that will continue into the future,” he said
The problem is that anyone can say they’re the best at what they do, but it can be hard — and at times impossible — to know whether they’re telling the truth.
How Elon Musk finds a Liar?

Luckily, Musk revealed his solution at the World Government Leader Summit in 2017. He asks each candidate he interviews the same question: “Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”
Because “the people who really solved the problem know exactly how they solved it,” he said. “They know and can describe the little details.”

Musk’s method hinges on the idea that someone making a false claim will lack the ability to back it up convincingly, so he wants to hear them talk about how they worked through a thorny issue, step by step.

Musk’s strategy is effective
A study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition last year in December uncovered several approaches to spotting liars based on a job interviewing technique that, funnily enough, backs up the effectiveness of what Musk has been doing for years.

One such technique, called “Asymmetric Information Management” (AIM), is designed to provide an interviewee with a clear means to demonstrate their innocence or guilt to the investigator by providing detailed information.
“Small details are the lifeblood of forensic investigations and can provide investigators with facts to check and witnesses to question,” Cody Porter, one of the study’s authors and a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Portsmouth, wrote in an article for The Conversation.

Specifically, she added, interviewers should give clear instructions to interviewees that “if they provide longer, more detailed statements about the event of interest, then the investigator will be better able to detect if they are telling the truth or lying.”
Porter and her team of researchers found that “truth-tellers” typically seek to demonstrate their innocence and commonly provide more detailed information in response to such instructions.
“In contrast, liars wish to conceal their guilt,” Porter explained. “This means they are more likely to strategically withhold information in response to the AIM method. Their assumption here is that providing more information will make it easier for the investigator to detect their lie, so instead, they provide less information.”

If you want the job tell the truth and be detailed
The study also found that using the AIM method can increase the likelihood of detecting liars by nearly 70%. That’s good news for Musk — and other hiring managers who adopt this science-backed strategy.

As Musk said in the interview with Auto Bild, what he really wants to know is whether a candidate truly solved the problem they claimed to have solved.
“And of course you want to make sure if there was some significant accomplishment, were they really responsible, or was someone else more responsible?” Musk added. “Usually, someone who really had to struggle with a problem, they really understand [the details], and they don’t forget.”
After all, no one wants to hire someone who is all talk and no action. So if you want the job, don’t skimp on the details.


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