2020 Vision, a sight for sore eyes

At the start of any new decade, we tend to greet the new dawn with optimism, hope and self-belief.

To be fair it started well enough. The previous month, all my clients had been holding their Christmas celebrations, marking the progress they had made on their unique growth journeys.

Another great year beckoned. Ambitious targets were set. Rewards and recognition was guaranteed. Then COVID-19 stepped into their commercial world and everything changed. Totally.

Shock followed fear, followed by survival, followed by uncertainty, followed by loss, followed by massive change.

As the world changed country by country, and as our politicians and medical experts tried to make sense of the crisis unfolding, business leaders had to act quickly.

The impact of the pandemic can’t be underestimated. Apart from the obvious financial effects from the worldwide lockdown, the real and lasting influence of Covid-19 will be seen to be the way it re-shaped individual organisations.

The disruption it created within organisations was enormous. Like a stack of toppling dominos, each stage brought disruption and pressure that had a direct impact on the next. Starting with all leaders being put to the test, as they navigated through uncertainty and came to terms with the scorched landscape that was left.

Even the resilient Generation Z and the Millennials experience their first life shocks. Those who were furloughed were given a lifeline along with a clear message of how their companies viewed their value.

We’ve made it through to the other side, but at what cost? There will have been a price to pay financially and in terms of the mental health and wellbeing of the teams. Moving forward, there is no doubt that a new focus on pastoral issues will have a growing part to play in both the new workplace environment and the speed and success of your growth journey

The TEN LESSONS LEARNT during the pandemic.

1. No organisation was truly prepared for the pandemic. 

Although pandemics had been widely predicted, very few leaders knew about the dramatic, global and long-term consequences. Consequently there was no real Plan B in place and certainly no prediction of what the post-pandemic commercial landscape might look like.

2. Rip up everything you think you know

Traditional business growth planning and operational models adopted by leaders and enthusiastically promoted by gurus, business schools and experts proved to be ‘unfit for purpose’. A new model for delivering growth in the face of crisis and changing events is now needed.

3. Survival was down to leadership

Business plans had to be torn up. Sales forecasts proved to be unrealistic. Badly run businesses were shown to be just that – badly run. The winners were the well-run businesses or those lucky enough to have cash reserves, supportive bankers and patient suppliers.

4. Lack of leadership was fully exposed

COVID-19 exposed a lack of leadership capability in many businesses. Employees witnessed poor leadership throughout the pandemic. Furlough, restructuring, planning, communication, support and decision making exposed their character and lack of skillset. Many employees paid a heavy price because of this unprepared and poor leadership.

5. Everyone took a breath

For the first time in years, leaders were forced to step-back and take time out. During this they have had a real opportunity to analyse their reaction to the pandemic, along with what their businesses future might look like, together with the required structure of their new look organisation and quality of their workforce. This period of reflection has no doubt been painful, unsettling but ultimately rewarding.

6. We’re all sailing into uncharted waters

Great leaders realised that the past is the past and it is not coming back. We are all on a new journey in a new world and that will require a new way of living and new way of working. This new journey has proved to be liberating for many leaders. As they embrace the ability to create something special in this new landscape. They recognise that we are in a completely unique situation and, for the right organisations, a world of opportunity awaits! 

7. The work-life balance is here to stay

The concept of working from home has moved from an employee perk to a cultural and operational norm. Common sense has finally prevailed, with many benefiting from a new on-site/home-based approach to work. 

8. Change is the new constant

The ability to adapt, transform, pivot and execute are the behavioural expectations of any ambitious, fast growing business post 2020.
Not only are agility, resilience and empowerment the three biggest cultural requirements needed for survival in the new world, but they are also the foundations of the growth journey.

9. From Bricks to Clicks

Digital transformation has been accelerated because of COVID-19. The inevitable move from traditional direct customer contact to online has been accelerated by lockdown. As a consequence to the global move online, new markets, territories and opportunities have suddenly and realistically opened. The consumer world is now truly a global village and the opportunities for growth are unrivalled. For the right organisations, the gold rush is about to start.

10. Being caught twice is unforgivable

One thing we have learnt is that, in a modern and linked world, both a virus and its financial impact will spread incredibly quickly across the planet. Leaders have realised that they cannot be caught out again. They understand that we now operate in a constantly changing and interconnected landscape and their ability to successfully navigate their way through this changing terrain is a core requirement in this new and exciting world of opportunity.