17 Feb Leading Change Through a Pandemic and Uncertain Times
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
2020 was a rough year for leading others for many organizational leaders. From the pandemonium that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic to the zigs and zags of the economy, most organizations faced challenges that were never anticipated.
“An opportunity to blow wide open the habits of past decision-making processes…”
Yet, in this period of turbulent disruption also came the unique opportunity for leading change in a way never done before. An opportunity to blow wide open the habits of past decision-making processes in organizations. And a chance to reinvigorate the process of organizational improvement like never before.
These thoughts and others are what excite Laura Huckabee-Jennings, CEO of Transcend. Her company, Transcend, helps CEOs build leadership teams who drive purpose and create values and workplaces that are more effective and rewarding.
So an interviewer recently asked Laura about how CEOs should be leading change throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and how the pandemic has forced positive conversations and team-building opportunities.
Flexing your organization’s “Change Resilience” muscle
Us: Laura, you talk a lot about “change resilience.” Can you unpack this concept a bit for us?
Laura: Change is a huge enabling factor for both agility and flexibility. Change makes you move with the market and adjust on the fly. So although 2020 brought many terrible things, it also brought some opportunities that have permitted organizations all over the country to experience dramatic change together. Disruption allows you to rethink things, not just what’s tactically right in front of you but also the very fabric of your company.
Us: So change resilience is an organization’s ability to become accustomed to change?
Laura: Yes! I view resilience as a muscle. Once you’ve flexed that muscle over a period of time, you’re sculpting that muscle. Once that resilience muscle has strengthened, you start to embrace making other needed changes that appeared too challenging or disruptive before.
Embracing the grief from 2020
Us: But it’s really hard to deal with some of the negative things that happened to organizations in 2020.
Laura: There’s no doubt about that. And there is genuine grief about the loss of how we thought 2020 would happen. No more drinking coffee together with co-workers in the kitchen. No intimate in-person brainstorming sessions. No team outings. The trick is–first, embrace the grief. The things we were going to do aren’t going to happen, now. Then, once you’ve embraced the grief, start finding new things to look forward to. Adapt to the circumstances and create great experiences in them. In this way, you can transition better from grief to resilience.
Core values become real watersheds
Us: So how else can “change resilience” impact an organization?
Laura: It pushes you to clarify and then embrace your core values and find ways to use them to grow your organization. Perhaps in the past, you had a laundry list of 8 or more value statements. “Integrity.” “Honesty.” “Transparency.” Well–who wouldn’t value those things? The trick is to identify which values truly separate you from the competition. When you drill down and identify the three ways you have more integrity than the next company, and you can empirically measure those three things, then you’re on the right track.
Partner with Transcend and start leading change and creating change resilience within your organization.
Transcend works with visionary leaders to identify the best approach for achieving their organization’s vision. Working with you and your leadership team, Transcend leads you through change management, team effectiveness, culture transformation, and strategic planning. No mass-produced, cookie-cutter approaches here–only high-quality, fearless organizational improvement that brings about meaningful and measurable change.