Don’t squander this unique moment – you still have time to achieve the extraordinary

As I re-read McKinsey’s quarterly report The CEO Moment: Leadership for a new era (July 2020), I found myself inspired once more  by the stories of CEOs who managed to leverage opportunities presented by Covid to achieve extraordinary shifts, changes, goals, and milestones – opportunities they never even realised existed pre-pandemic.

Indeed, Covid-19 is being hailed as an ‘accelerant’ towards either glory or demise. Some companies are outperforming and 10x-ing beyond their wildest dreams, while others are unfortunately not sharing in this fortune, instead imploding in a poof of smoke.

The glorious ones are noted in the McKinsey report, so need for repetition here (but definitely worth the read if you’ve not done so already).

What’s probably more commonplace, though, are the countless companies that have achieved neither greatness nor obsolescence during this time, yet managed to survive, counting themselves lucky to still be around. These companies and their leadership teams have done nothing startlingly good or bad, but have managed to keep the wheels turning and their heads are still above water – that in itself feels good enough under the circumstances.

Frankly, I tend to agree! If you’re still around at this stage of the game, I’m willing to applaud and throw roses. Well done! And there is no shame at all for not 10xing – or even not 2xing.

Yet there may still be an opportunity for you, your people and your company to achieve something superb. While the urgency of the early days may have passed (many of the incredible shifts made by the CEOs noted in the McKinsey report and others were due to the time-sensitivity and radical change of EVERYTHING almost overnight), there is still time to dig deep and assess what new opportunities have arisen that you can capitalize on right now.

Instead of thinking about how you can ‘get back to normal’ (I’ve heard this way too many times this week!) challenge yourself and your people to keep stretching towards a new paradigm.

Some things to think about, and act on:

  1. Great ideas can come from anywhere! Frequent and fast communication has been the mainstay of these times, so leverage the increased connection time with your leadership team, your managers and staff at all levels to poll for innovation. If you haven’t already set up some kind of ‘town hall’, do it now! If you found value in these forums, continue with them even as we find a new rhythm with the WFH / back to office-hybrid.
  2. You do not need to have all the answers – share accountability with your people. If your team wants to try something new, let them go for it – give them the responsibility to figure out the plan, and then to execute it.
  3. Re-examine every single ‘standard operating procedure’ to assess for relevance in the new world. You’ll likely find that many of these, particularly as they relate to people and performance, have much less validity or purpose than they used to have. Toss out anything that no longer makes sense.
  4. If you’re still around, your business likely has strong fundamentals, and sufficient raison d’etre. Now’s the time to build on this. Competition may have dwindled in your sector, there may be more space or market share available to claim, or you may be able to reap other benefits not available pre-Covid (talent may be more readily available, or more affordable in some instances, for example).
  5. Do not miss the moment! If you’ve been waiting for the dust to settle before you make your move – stop! Now is the time to go go go! This unique moment will shortly be running out, so if you want to do anything bold at all, GO FOR IT NOW!