Hands up if your leadership offsite has been postponed?
Or maybe it’s your strategy and planning day?
During a recent webcast one of the participants shared with me that in their organisation the leadership team offsite had been delayed 5 times so far this year. Another person said they hadn’t brought the leadership team together with strategic purpose for over a year.
So how connected does the leadership team feel? How in sync with their shared priorities? What about the level of clarity they each have about the strategic direction of the organisation? How well do they understand how to help each other deliver on the strategic imperatives?
Why is the leadership offsite being postponed?
Because ‘they’ want to have the offsite face-to-face.
While I understand this might be the preferred option, waiting is not an option if you want to exert some control over your future.
Consider all the things that an offsite or strategy day is designed to do. To name a few:
- Develop and share the vision
- Develop shared values and behaviours
- Develop and share the strategy and plan
- Decide priority programs of work
- Explore new opportunities for the business
- Identify and mitigate risk
- Develop the leadership team as a connected, trusting, and cohesive unit
- Develop the capability of the leadership team
- Build understanding between members of the leadership team
- Create collaboration
- Share best practice
- And more….
If you delay, defer, postpone, reschedule, put off or cancel these strategic events then you are moving very quickly into the FREEZE zone… where you are giving up control of your future.
Let me explain. There are 3 broad responses to dealing with significant change and upheaval, such as that inspired by the COVID pandemic.
The first of these is the Freeze response. These leaders don’t know what to do in response to the crisis or upheaval, and so they aren’t doing much. They are frozen. This is a fright response. It could be the fear of doing the wrong thing, as well as not knowing what the right thing is to do. As a consequence, there is no readiness. There is little thinking about strategically what we need to be able to do in the future. A sustained freeze response is likely to result in teams and organisations not making it to the survival line.
While many people started in this space in the first half of 2020, most moved to be more constructive in their leadership response as the year progressed.
Then we have leaders who are taking action, though often without a clear purpose. This results in kneejerk reactions. Often these actions are contrasted with periods of inaction from day to day. Or the actions work against each other. This kind of response has action, though it’s not necessarily directed or focused action. It’s a bit of this and a bit of that. Often the focus is to try and look after ourselves and make sure we’re okay. (think ‘hoarding’) There is not necessarily a lack of good intent behind it. It is more often a lack of knowing what to do in order to prepare for the future.
This approach to leadership means these organisations will likely survive. They will hit the survival line in the future, and they will be basically in the same place they started. So they’re not ready to take advantage of any opportunities that will exist in the new future.
Then we have a third leadership response. For some leaders, we saw this response kick in immediately in the early days of quarantine and isolation in 2020. For other leaders, they have moved through different responses into a FUTURE response.
Whenever it happened, these are the leaders who are taking constructive action, strategic action. This may include how to consolidate their organisation right now, so that it will survive. It may be making decisions about standing people down, other cost-cutting measures, changing strategic direction, reorganising and so on because they want their organisation to be positioned, ready to take advantage of opportunities in the future when they reach the survival line.
Early decisions mean being positioned to take advantage of the opportunities. It might be things like learning and development and investing in capability. It might be organisations who have taken the opportunity to (word of the year) pivot.
Leaders have looked at the options and opportunities right now and for the future. So it’s not only about making decisions and taking action for now. It is about being prepared for the future. So these leaders are getting ready. When they reach the survival point, there will be options and they will be positioned to take advantage of them.
If you reflect on the state of your own organisation, which state are you currently operating in?
The challenge right now is that after an optimistic start to 2021, some leaders are falling back into FREEZE and FLURRY type responses. Delaying decisions and action taking. Adopting a wait and see approach because of the ongoing uncertainty, in part caused by intermittent lockdowns and border restrictions. They are putting off key strategic activities.
These tactics do not create the best chance for you and your organisation to be future ready.
It is reasonably simple. In order for your organisation to have every chance to survive, in order for your people to know where to focus, you need to have your leadership offsite, your strategic planning and strategy day. And if you can’t have it offsite, you must bring it online.
Play the long game.
If you don’t have a cohesive leadership strategy, how do you ensure the right decisions are being made, and the right action being taken?
Your people are looking for your continuing leadership right now. You need to lead them. That means you do need to deliberately create the opportunity to be strategic. To plan, to prioritise. By doing this, others know what the plan is and what the priorities are. They can make everyday decisions and take action based on this information. The information that you provide them because you have created the time and space to be strategic.
So progress can be made towards the future.
The number one reason to have your offsite, face-to-face, or online, is to give your organisation, your teams, and your people, a chance at creating a future. A chance at leading possibility, rather than limiting the options, limiting the potential, and limiting the future. Without a current strategic focus, without a cohesive leadership approach, it’s like the seafarers of old navigating without a north star. They simply don’t know where they’re heading or how to get there.
Continue to lead.
Go ahead with your offsite.
Do it online.
It’s the way to the future.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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