If you are a CEO, you tend to see things differently. While much of current media attention focuses on unprecedented crises, your eyes light up as you also see opportunity. A chance to reset, retool, rebuild, or (re)launch initiatives that are perfectly positioned for such a time as this.
But how? How can organizational or missional change be led in the midst of a crisis in a way that unites rather than divides? How can we move together with our teams, rather than rush ahead and impatiently wait for them to catch up after the opportunity has passed (or perhaps never get on board at all)?
John Kotter’s classic Leading Change identifies the first step in moving toward change as “Creating a Sense of Urgency”. I think multiple wars and a worldwide recession triggered by COVID-19 have taken care of that.
The second step is “Creating the Guiding Coalition”. No matter how powerful, the CEO cannot manufacture change by themselves.
We now live in an era of collaboration, and we need to think differently. We need to look at business and ministry through the lens of connected relationships and learn how to navigate this new world with new strategies.
One of the best guides for collaborative leadership is Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership. In it, the authors do a fantastic job of defining collaboration as the preferred destination of a relationship continuum. Pay attention to this:
- Networking – this is where most people start, and it is simply the exchange of information.
- Coordinating – activities and schedules are altered to work better together.
- Cooperating – resources are shared with one another.
- Collaboration – linking, leveraging, and aligning resources and opportunities to create a shared outcome of mutual benefit.
Many teams talk about collaboration, but few achieve it.
Why? Because it is time-consuming and hard work that requires a culture of mutual humility, trust, and communication. Based on experience, it can take months or years of relentless determination and commitment. But it is worth it!
As the CEO, what new opportunities do you see on the horizon?
Now look inside your organization and ask yourself a second question. Where is your team on the relationship continuum, and how can you move toward true collaboration?
Finally, invite people into the opportunity that you see, not to sell it to them, but to ask them to shape it with you.
You just may be surprised at how collaborating around a new vision or opportunity brings both success and stability out of an unprecedented crisis!