Even for the most accomplished leaders, the road to success is not always linear. Ups and downs, twists and turns, and even complete 180ºs can all make for a challenging journey. Changing the strategy — or pivoting, as we know it today, can occur for a variety of reasons. New information, a market shift, even a worldwide crisis such as Covid-19 are all potential triggers of change.  The important thing is to recognize the need to course correct when it presents itself, and take decisive action.

Pivoting may encompass a series of small, gradual decisions, or be an earth-shattering leap.  Whatever the circumstances, change can be tough.  If the course correct is due to a less than stellar path to begin with, it can hold additional issues.  If you set the strategy yourself but now believe it to be a mistake, the best course of action is to admit the error to those who need to know and work to fix it.  Now is not the time for embarrassment, pride, or fear, and especially not delay.  Ignoring hard data, hoping for a miracle or shifting blame, can all be very dangerous for the company, and you.  Instead, a timely mea culpa and an action plan will demonstrate that you are a leader with the maturity and strength of character to own your decisions and do what’s necessary for the good of the company.

When a significant pivot is called for, it is important to handle it deftly. These tips will help you get the best results.

 

1. Get your Team on Board

Getting your team on board with a significant change in course requires transparency and inclusiveness.  Ensure each member understands the reason for the pivot, what the expected outcome will be, and what will now be required of them. Be forthright; only with their buy-in can you succeed. If mistakes were made, explain them as a matter of fact with humility. Ensure team members have an opportunity to ask questions. Welcome their input as you may receive some valuable ideas you had not considered yourself.

 

2. Pivot Thoughtfully

Make sure you pivot with an eye on the long term as well as the short term. While you may believe a change in direction is urgent, what will be the longer-term impact?  Ask yourself if a pivot is truly necessary. Frequent change may cause employees to feel their department and even the entire company is out of control. Some may even jump ship. To retain your valuable contributors, and to get the best from them, pivot only when you believe it is absolutely necessary.

 

3. Seek Advice

When contemplating a pivot, seek out advice from those you trust and respect.  High-stakes pivots can be particularly sleep-depriving and a second or third opinion might help you make the right decision.  Don’t overlook this opportunity to seek guidance as most are only too happy to provide it and a fresh set of eyes on a problem could hold the answer you need.

 

4. Learn from Your Mistakes and Successes and Document Them

We all make mistakes and enjoy successes, but we don’t all document them. Don’t waste an opportunity to record what happened and why, so you can refer to it later.  This includes situations related to pivoting. Two years from now will you remember the facts?  What precisely was the situation? Why did you pivot and how? What were the results — good or bad?  For many of us, the pace of business is a blur. Make time to jot down the basics of your major decisions as you go, because there’s nothing like hindsight for 20/20 vision.

 

5. Add Empathy to Your Considerations

Pivoting can be emotionally challenging.  It requires a lot of courage and emotional energy. It also takes humility and empathy. As you present the new direction to your team, take the time to discuss the losses you are facing. Your humility and vulnerability will help them stay connected to you as a leader and help them refocus on the new vision. When we pivot, everyone experiences a sense of loss.   Share how the process of pivoting is impacting you. Like you, they invested a lot of effort and time in the previous strategy and plan. Provide a forum for people to express their reactions. Once they feel heard they likely will be able to join in the new adventure.

In today’s world with its unprecedented rate of change and all the associated challenges, the ability to pivot has become a fundamental requirement of good leaders.  That’s not surprising when you consider that business success, like success in our personal lives, largely comes down to choices.

So, how is your ability to pivot? Do you need help embracing change and resetting a course for your team, your company — or yourself?  Forge Coaching & Consulting can help.  Contact us at (905) 873-9393.

 

How are you adapting during these turbulent times?

Manon offers some thoughts on being resilient while dealing with all the emotions that COVID-19 can create.

Work and stress go hand-in-hand for most of us.  Usually, work-related stress can be left at the office but, sometimes, it can be impossible to “switch off” when we get home. This kind of stress, which can include intense worry and even anger, can negatively impact relationships and home life.  If you have a partner who is experiencing this, it can be very hard to know how best to help.  This article sets out a few ways to support them.

Listen

In the first few minutes of getting home, your spouse or significant other may feel the need to unburden themselves by recounting their frustrations.  This kind of venting can be very cathartic and helpful in the process of unwinding and calming down.  All the negative feelings that have accumulated at work — and not been expressed — can finally be let free in a safe environment with a person they trust.  In this heightened state of emotion, it’s very important to feel heard, so as busy as this time of day usually is, try to provide your undivided attention and listen fully.  It’s important to understand that venting is not the same as a conversation that seeks advice or solutions — that may come later, but for now, just listen.

Offer Support

Naturally, there will be times when real conversations happen about the source of the stress and unhappiness. Listening fully is critical, of course, but so is offering support. If you are not sure what your partner needs, ask.  Perhaps they want your thoughts on how to make things better at work, or perhaps they just want to talk it over and be reminded that you are there for them.  It’s vital to show that you are fully engaged in the conversation. Importantly, don’t compare their stress or difficult situation to your own current challenges, however tempting, because this conversation is not about you. Schedule time for that talk, certainly, but stay focused on your partner in this instance.

Determine the Nature of the Stress

It’s important to understand what kind of stress is being experienced.  Is it short-term stress, or is there a stressful situation that is on-going?  A perceived threat of being laid off, coping with a difficult manager, or dealing with a hostile colleague can be much more stressful and difficult to manage than the stress caused by a particularly busy week.  If you can determine that the stress being experienced is likely to be short-lived, it can help to put it into perspective and make it more manageable.  If the source of the stress is on-going, then the two of you can discuss a way forward — such as practical steps to find a solution or coping strategies to relax and unwind at home.

Encourage Distractions

In times of severe and on-going stress it’s common to feel exhausted and even reclusive, but getting out of the house is important to our sense of well-being and overall health. Encourage your partner to pursue activities such as hobbies or sports, and to meet up with friends. This can do much to remind them that life isn’t all about work, or being at home, and it can certainly take their mind of their worries and help them cope.

Create a Haven

The home should be a safe and tranquil place that we can retreat to at the end of the working day. Try to be mindful of things that impede that tranquility, such as clutter. Electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops can be very invasive and can most definitely interfere with a sense of peace and relaxation.  Consider setting limits for dealing with emails and texts, for example, not past 8 p.m., or only if marked “urgent” and try to spend time together every day that is electronics-free.  Going for an evening walk or drive is an excellent way to decompress and lift the spirits after a day’s work,  and can also serve as a good time to talk.

Consider Enlisting Expert Help

Helping your loved one cope with stress can be stressful in itself!  Sometimes, we have to look outside for assistance.  If the situation does not seem to be improving, despite best efforts,  you might want to consider suggesting your partner connects with a trained therapist or coach.  Of course, professional help should complement the support you provide, not replace it.

When work stress comes home, the key thing is to ensure your spouse knows they’re not alone with their troubles, and that they have a supportive partner who is open to listening and willing to help.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is becoming an increasingly important consideration when hiring new employees and evaluating the potential of existing ones.  Given that our EQ  can influence our success at work (and in our personal lives), it’s important to understand what it is.

There are many schools of thought as to how to  best describe EQ.  Usually, it is viewed as a combination of inter-personal and intra-personal capabilities and as having a number of elements or categories.   I like the four key pillars set out below, each with their own set of competencies:

The four key pillars of EQ*

  • Self-awareness: emotional self-awareness
  • Self-management: emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and a positive outlook
  • Social awareness: empathy and organizational awareness
  • Relationship management: influence, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork, inspirational leadership

“Scoring” highly in each category will likely mean that you are reliable, engaged and diligent. As well, you will have a positive outlook, be empathic and get along with people.  You’re also a problem-solver who welcomes challenges, and tends not to complain.  This sounds like the ideal employee, doesn’t it?  However,  a high EQ is not a guarantee of advancement.

If you feel you have a high EQ, but seem unable to climb the corporate ladder it may be that, all other reasons aside,  you are viewing EQ too simply.  That’s because many of the positive aspects of EQ come with  corresponding challenges.  For example, a positive and supportive manager with a high EQ  may delay providing difficult feedback to a subordinate or avoid challenging a superior on a critical issue.  This tendency to avoid conflict and risk does not drive organizational change, and it can also limit creativity and innovation.  Clearly, that’s not good for business.  As well, this safe approach to managing relationships does nothing to shine a light on the  manager as a true leader, capable of making tough or even unpopular decisions, and deserving of advancement.

When considering your own EQ, use the four pillars above to help you evaluate your natural inclinations and work to enhance the areas you feel are holding you back.  For example, could it be that your strong sense of empathy  is preventing you from addressing the abrasive behaviour of a team member whom you know is dealing with personal troubles?  If  so, by strengthening your conflict management skills, you would feel better equipped and more confident to tackle the issue.

Now, let’s imagine that during that difficult conversation, your subordinate becomes angry and defensive. Before you know it, she makes accusations about your own short-comings. This would call for strong emotional self-control on your part to keep your own anger in check so you can stay focussed on resolving the  matter at hand.  You could also draw from your competencies in the realm of influence as you help your subordinate understand why their current behaviour cannot continue.  Clearly, the stronger you are in each of the competencies, the better able you are to manage a variety of situations and make a valuable contribution to your company.

Over the next few weeks, look within yourself and try to become more cognisant of your choices in situations.  Look for patterns in your thoughts and behaviours.  How do you choose to respond or not respond to certain opportunities or challenges?  You can also look outwards to your colleagues,  subordinates and peers for their insight through a 360º evaluation. These can be extremely valuable due to the anonymity provided and their ability to be brutally honest.  Whichever route you choose, work to  understand the key areas  that may be holding you back and  create a strategy to address them.

To find out more about how Forge Coaching and Consulting can help you develop a stronger EQ, or for information about any aspect of coaching please contact (1) 905 873 9393  or visit www.forgecoachingandconsulting.com

 

*Source: More than Sound, LLC 2017

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