Got my hair cut. Now what?

“I can get my hair cut today!”

Hey, it's a very real thing for people who have hair available to cut. Getting a haircut is one of the early reliefs coming out of restrictions being lifted. A return to normal, something customers can control.

Your hair stylist or barber is glad to see you, and glad to be seen by you. Your stylist’s business is fortunate. As long as you have hair, I’m pretty sure you will return to your previous habit of regular haircuts.

That got me to thinking about customer behavior as our economy re-opens. The impetus for organizations to ‘change back better’ will fade if we are able to just return to the way things used to be. Is that a good thing?


To Change or Not to Change

As a board director, my hunch is that when returning to the old way of doing things is easy, it will stifle the recent spate of innovations and many of the creative ideas that had been placed on the drawing board. I can sense that this is already happening.

We return to the old ways because we can. It’s easier and less scary than making permanent changes. But other organizations may not be able to do so, and maybe they will be better off in the long run. How might your board have this discussion? How might you inspire a fatigued CEO to get fired up about it?

If there is an opportunity for change, but an equally strong opportunity to go back to the way things were, what is your board going to do? What is in the owners’ best interests?

What can an individual director do? What role do you have to challenge for change or to normalize it? Your CEO has been through the wringer. How would a savvy director motivate or incentivize the required leadership behavior?

 

Resilient Leadership

We’re talking about resilient leadership. While we yearn for its presence in our management teams, boards that lead do so with their tone from the top. What does this look like? These past weeks, I’ve appreciated that many professional services firms have been prolific in publishing excellent material on topics like this.

For instance, Deloitte has a dedicated COVID-19 website and its Deloitte Insights service has produced a series of excellent COVID-19 articles. For your convenience, we’ve provided links below in the Takeaways section of this blog post.

In ‘The heart of resilient leadership’, Deloitte describes five fundamental qualities of resilient leadership:

  1.  Design from the heart. Resilient leaders are genuinely empathetic and walk compassionately in the shoes of employees, customers, and their broader ecosystems. Yet, resilient leaders must simultaneously take a hard, rational line to protect financial performance from disruption.
  2.  Put the mission first. Resilient leaders are skilled at triage, able to stabilize their organizations while finding opportunities amid the constraints.
  3.  Aim for speed over elegance. Resilient leaders take decisive action ─ with courage ─ based on imperfect information. They collect as much data as they can to inform their decisions, but then they act.
  4.  Own the narrative. Resilient leaders are transparent about current realities including what they don’t know ─ while also painting a compelling picture of the future that inspires others to persevere.
  5.  Embrace the long view. Resilient leaders stay focused on the horizon, anticipating the new business models that are likely to emerge and sparking the innovations that will define tomorrow.

In ‘COVID-19 checklist: Practical steps for the immediate, midterm, and long term’, Deloitte describes three phases: Respond, Recover, and Thrive. We are to nimbly consider all three time frames concurrently and allocate resources accordingly.

Does that ring true for you?

What questions might the board ask itself to determine if, first, the board has a leadership resiliency in its fiduciary duty on behalf of the owners and the broader ecosystem; and, second, how can the board support the CEO and management team in embracing the long view?

 

What is management’s resiliency level? As a director, how do you know?

 

From Surviving to Thriving

We have seen the response over the past couple of months ─ the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now we are going to find out how we recover, and how we go forward to thrive as organizations.

I’m not convinced we are ready to thrive in the new normal if we just default back to how things used to be because we have the luxury of government support, bridge financing or a strong financial foundation.

I’m beginning to better understand why the business continuity plans of forward-thinking organizations were called Business Resiliency Plans. Resiliency and thriving go hand in hand.

 

How do we build back better?

 

How do we avoid losing the creativity and momentum of new ideas that were emerging when we thought government was going to severely cut non-profit funding? Well, the cut turned out to be much smaller and now we have the choice to go back to the way things were. Really? What about next time?

How do we gather the data we need to find out if our customers will feel safe returning to our places of business, our restaurants, our airlines, our venues, our theatres, arenas, and concert halls? How might we provide a revenue-generating service in the meantime? How might we do more of what got us through this to the other side?

I believe a ‘hybrid’ model will be heard about in ways that go beyond a description of virtual AGMs. There will be some people in the venue, some online. Restaurants with both in-house and curb-side service. The dog groomer now has a van and will come to my house. Maybe your barber or hair stylist will too!

Now, returning to the haircut analogy for another hybrid … while I can mow what’s left of my hair these days, and did so before the pandemic, I still need to visit the barber once in awhile to get that neckline straight!


Your takeaways:

 

Leave a comment below to get in on the conversation.

Thank you.
Scott

Scott Baldwin is a certified corporate director (ICD.D) and co-founder of DirectorPrep.com – an online hub with hundreds of guideline questions and resources to help prepare for your next board meeting.

 

Share Your Insight: What resiliency questions are appropriate for your board to consider?

Comment

Close

Welcome to the Savvy Director Blog

Stay connected with our weekly posts about what it takes to be a savvy board director