Have you ever been on a boat in the middle of a storm?  In the calm, you can see far ahead and aim for your destination or you can chart your course and go from point A to point B with relative ease.  However, in times of instability when waves are all around us, we must find a different way forward, a new focus. If we keep using Plan A – vision and long-term strategy – we will not thrive through the storm. 

Using a boating metaphor, what can one focus on to create stability in a storm?

  1. Wear your life jackets and have safety equipment available
  2. Move ahead but at a slower speed
  3. Adjust your course to focus on what is in front of you
  4. Navigate the waves at a 45-degree angle that will not capsize you while you move towards the closest safe destination
  5. Have your crew and passenger stow loose items, close hatches, bail water, keep the boat balanced, and provide information like compass readings for the next safe place to harbour
  6. Get to a safe place and regroup, adjust your plans, and proceed accordingly from a more stable place

How does this relate to leading through unprecedented times.  In drawing a parallel to the example above, there is a similar way forward for leaders and organizations:

  1. Ensure that you and your team have what they need.  This means safety first – stay at home, wear masks, maintain a 6-foot distance, wash hands, have extra cleaning done at open places of work, ensure others coming into places of work practice safety guidelines.  Support people to be resilient and mentally fit.*Adjust expectations.  Initially slow down and adapt through gaining perspective to, then, be able to move forward together more effectively.  Quotas may need to be lowered for a time.  Work may need to slow down for a while.  Some subsidies may need to be applied for to support the business and/or people who need to be laid off.
  2. Look at what you can do now based on purpose rather than long-term vision.
  3. Go where it makes sense to go given the current situation.  Find what your safe course through the storm is.
  4. Have your team members contribute ideas to adapt, innovate and more forward.
  5. Check-in frequently.  Do a pulse check with each team member weekly.  Revisit the course forward frequently.  Continue to adapt and innovate and prioritize safety and self-care practices to provide a solid foundation and resilience.

Where are you at with these practices?  What is it that can you focus on now?

Stay tuned for our 2nd August blog post about Navigating Uncharted Waters, the calm after the storm.

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Yours in adapting and thriving.


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