The art of surfing the change waves for leaders

The art of surfing the change waves for leaders

There are times when there are uncertain situations in front of us and we scramble to deal with these circumstances. Leaders help the organization navigate through them. However, today I am here to share what happens after you navigate your organization through the uncertain times and the situation starts clearing up.

You see the waves!

As the storm settles down, you can see the new waves coming at you! Some small, some big and some very large. While some are near, some are further away. All of them may threaten to disturb your peace to some degree. You can choose to stay put and not react to these waves, hoping that they will pass.  This strategy may work if the waves are caused by a temporary phenomenon. But that may not always be the case!

Change is Certain!

You must not close your eyes to the upcoming waves, you must not ignore them. As clarity emerges, you must put on the “strategic-lens” and use your “far-seeing” abilities to judge if there is a sufficient threat to your business. As a leader you must also use your “extensive-network” to seek advice and sharpen your understanding of the upcoming waves. Once you determine that change is certain, it is time to start working on converting the “Threats” to “Opportunities”.

Size does not matter!

If you are ready, it does not matter how small, you or your organization is, in comparison to the wave. It is your ability to ride the wave that will determine your success.

Could you imagine that GM (General Motors) started making masks when there was an acute shortage in the first wave. With the help of engineers, designers, buyers and people in manufacturing, GM was able to convert their Warren, Michigan facility to produce masks in less than seven days. They started producing 50,000 masks per day. GM worked with automotive suppliers to develop the three layers of fabric in the masks. These companies were supplying GM with sound-deadening insulation found in doors, headliners and trunks, but they quickly altered their production processes to help manufacture these desperately needed masks.

There is also the story of Ovidiu Olea from Hongkong who transitioned from being a finance guy to a mask mogul in four months. He owned a payment technology firm with just 20 employees. He initially started trading masks and sold about 48 million masks before deciding to start manufacturing them. Global fashion brands like Prada, Gucci and Balenciaga have started to manufacture them. People also created some new business models e.g., ventures like offers $9.99-a-month mask subscriptions.

The Three Rights!

All you need to ride the waves are three things!

Right equipment: There are different types of boards for different types of waves; short boards for fast breaks, long boards for slow rollers, and guns for the big waves. As a leader, you need to work hard to build right combination of teams and culture; a culture that is built on openness, trust and supports innovation and creativity; a team that is diverse in thoughts, actions, and ideas; a team that complements each other.

Right time: You need to be there when the wave starts, so that you can position yourself to ride it, rather than be crushed by it. As a leader you must be always on a lookout for the waves. You will need to make decisions to change the path. And not just that, you will need to take your people along, and that comes back to a culture built on trust. You must invest time and effort in knowing your people and building bonds with them, so that when the time comes, they are ready to jump on the wave with you!

Right Place: Some of the best rides can come from that odd wave that no one saw coming but you; that can make your organization go far ahead than everyone else. There are many outliers, who predicted the trends and rode them ahead of others. Are you the leader, who is connected well within and without the industry? Can you see waves coming from the odd seas? Can you fish out the competitors coming from alternate industries? How could Elon Musk spin up one of the largest electric vehicle businesses? Why are other – more traditional car makers – jumping on to build their own versions of the EV now? Why were they not the first?

Ride the waves, do not fight the waves!

About the Author

Ms. Manbir Kaur is an Executive and Leadership Coach (Professional Certificated Coach, PCC - ICF). She is also a Conversational Intelligence(C-IQ) Enhanced Skills Practitioner and a key-note speaker.

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