The COVID-19 crisis will have a lasting impact on how your business operates. As an organizational leader, you are facing a choice. You can live in the anxiety of uncertainty and wait anxiously for the new normal to take shape, or you can be a visionary for your organization and create new possibilities. By doing the latter, you are helping to co-create the new normal that is so needed today.
LEVERAGING THE LAW OF CREATIVE TENSION
If you are a leader in the midst of our COVID crisis, you might feel like a rubber band that has been stretched too far. This isn’t all bad, though, given that tension is part of what creates the drive for a new way forward. Just think about what it might be like to stretch a rubber band between your right and left forefingers for an extended period. Would your fingers win, or would the rubber band? If you held it long enough, the tension of the rubber band would eventually take over as your fingers grow tired. Tension always seeks resolution.
Today’s tension is a good thing and can be harnessed right now to help you and your organization grow. It invites us to find new solutions, not unlike what some of the great visionaries of our time have also encountered. Examples of visionaries are numerous, but think about how these individuals leveraged the creative tension created by their circumstances:
- Nelson Mandela and his dream to end apartheid
- Steve Jobs and his desire to create the first Mac
- Herb Kelleher and his vision to create a different kind of airline.
In every case, the odds were stacked against them. But their brilliance, passion, and creative abilities overcame the odds because they refused to react and instead stood their ground as visionaries and used the creative tension to drive forward.
HOW TO FULLY ENGAGE CREATIVE TENSION
There are four consistent ways top visionaries engage creative tension. Consider how their ideas might apply to you.
First, get crystal clear around the most crucial aspects of your post-COVID19 vision.
There are certain essential elements the must be part of your vision-creating experience for what will follow COVID-19 if you are to get traction and make progress. Consider the importance of defining:
- The value you aim to create foryour various key stakeholders.
- The new kind of leadership most needed to realize the new normal.
- Enhanced processes necessary to turn the vision of the new normal into reality.
Second, turn away from your doubts.
In the face of uncertainty, doubts will arise. After all, we are facing something unprecedented. Yet, instead of falling prey to fear and anxiety, maintain a laser focus on what you are aiming to create. When you turn away from doubts and refocus your attention on the dream, the creative tension will move you forward.
Third, create shared ownership of the vision.
Visionaries enroll and surround themselves with believers. This means bringing together a team of leaders who will co-create and hold the new vision, and help you develop a strategy to realize it. Over time, you can seek to continually expand buy-in amongst all your stakeholders by inviting their contributions as you move forward.
Fourth, create feedback loops that support your organization’s execution of the strategy.
As visionaries maintain a laser focus on the manifestation of their vision, they enlist feedback to improve the strategy and tactics. Thus, make sure you are asking for feedback early and often!
Turbulent times are always fertile ground for visionaries. During the current crisis, you have a choice. You can live in fear about what the new world will be like, or you can passionately lean into new possibilities. The former only leads to more fear and reactivity. The latter leads to inspiration and breakthroughs. Which one will you choose?
This article has been written by David Utts – the Executive Vice President of Business Development for People Acuity – in collaboration with co-thought leaders, DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It suggests the principles of Interdependent Leadership, which starts with helping leaders lead themselves more effectively. David is a 25-year executive coaching veteran and a seasoned business leader. For a report that will give you tips from top leaders about New Leadership Skills for Our New World, click HERE.