The increased complexity and endless disruptions of the modern world brought on by the transition to the digital age means uncertainty is everywhere. All across our businesses, we face new challenges, as what used to work no longer achieves desired outcomes. The self-awareness of admitting what we don’t know is the first step toward figuring out new best practices. Fundamentally, people must act differently in the face of uncertainty. Businesses need to adopt learning strategies in order to improve, adapt, or even reinvent their execution strategies.
It is important to recognize the size of the changes going on in the world. In my previous post, I discussed how we are no longer in the industrial age; that fundamental structural changes are underway in all facets of society. We must embrace disruption in order to make it work for all of us.
Obviously, Covid-19 has brought massive uncertainty to businesses. From managing remote workers, to internal communications dominated by video platforms, to the devastation of small business buyers and consumer budgets, the ‘new normal’ would have been barely recognizable at the beginning of 2020. Make no mistake, the pandemic disrupted business.
People often have different ideas of what makes a good leader. The definition of a leader, to me, is someone who empowers others to be all that they can be. They must bring out the best in people and help them realize their potential, including how to pursue their own ideas for solving problems. It is crucial as a leader to empower your employees, teach them how to be an A-Player, have great communication with them, and have empathy for one another.
For example, Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 here in San Diego, wrote a book, “Helping People Win At Work.” Though this is a strong title, the subtitle is really what was memorable “Don’t Measure My Performance, Teach Me How to Get an A.” I really love that because most leaders obsess over measuring performance; typically with KPIs or OKRs. In many organizations, performance reviews or quarterly, at best. Teaching someone how to get an ‘A’, however, is an ongoing process.
Of course, you might believe in the well worn startup myth: only hire “A-players.” If anybody’s looked at a bell curve, you know how many A-players there are out in the world. The responsibility of a great leader is to create A-players. It’s to teach people how to get an A.