Architecting Greatness in the Midst of a Crisis
In light of shelter-in-place, social distancing, work from home, and all the other changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are taking time to assess our priorities. Some are hitting the re-set button when it comes to business partnerships. One affiliation that I won’t be questioning is that of my brand and talent management team, Collideoscope. Some of you have heard me share this Sinek quote: “Instead of expending energy to fit into the group, better to expend energy to find the group in which we fit.” When I teamed up with Collideoscope it was the right fit and it continues to be a team that I admire every day.
When Collideoscope CEO, Jayson Teagle, penned the following wisdom about architecting greatness in the midst of surviving the crisis, I immediately wanted to share it with all of you. One piece of advice you will read about is to hyper-focus on priorities. Ask yourself: “How can we use this time to get better so we can get bigger when the time comes?” Whether you are managing a team or an entire organization, I trust that Jayson’s insight will help you gain clarity in this difficult time.
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As a leader, greatness is probably the last thing on your mind right now. In fact, most of us are in pure survival mode. But, what if we reframed our mindset now so that as we look back at this time in the history of our families and organizations, we could say that we not only survived a crisis, but we architected greatness in the lives of those we serve.
Although I’ve kept fairly quiet since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve been taking notes, watching how leaders are doing it right and doing it wrong. And even more so, I have been monitoring my own leadership of a growing company and frantic family to constantly assess what I am doing right, and to identify areas in which I have an opportunity for growth in this unprecedented time in our shared history.
Each of us are encountering this new reality in different ways. For many leaders, it looks like layoffs, furloughs, budget cuts, or loans, many of which may be necessary to survive the demands of the crisis. But, I believe that in parallel to the surviving, we can be thriving – and architecting greatness so that our organizations and families can become stronger than ever before. That’s my hope for you.
In the following paragraphs I’ll outline some very practical ways that we can be architecting greatness in the midst of surviving the crisis.
1.) Be Relentlessly For Your Team
Now is the time to dive into their lives, their work, their humanity, and model
togetherness. The biggest thing they need from their leader right now is a
friend and guide through the trial.
- Send them dinner when you know they’ve had a particularly hard day.
- Recognize the toll the crisis is taking on their job – and call out specific actions caused: “I knew that created extra work for you when this happened, but I noticed and appreciate it.”
- Acknowledge the financial impact: “I know getting hit in this division is going to impact your compensation, how can we pivot together to make it up?”
- Schedule a team Zoom call with no agenda other than to connect personally as a team and give them an opportunity to feel heard.
2.) Recreate a Productive Workplace
For the first few days of the Shelter at Home order, I felt unbelievably tired
and unproductive. Maybe you can relate and have identified the connection
between increased anxiety and a lack of productivity. For me, I realized my
system was broken – I was hiding in my dark basement and attempting to work
while lying on the couch! Once I decided to be disciplined and sit at my desk,
my productivity skyrocketed. In fact, I’ve since been working to create a “COVID
cockpit” in my basement – setting up an espresso machine, installing a lockable
door (3 small kids at home!), purchasing a rowing machine, and installing a LED
window to mimic natural light. Have you analyzed your working environment and
how can you improve it to create optimal winning conditions?
3.) Continuously Redefine Your Priorities and Goals
You must realign what success looks like to meet the current reality, which is changing rapidly. Everyone’s “2020 Goals” are totally out the window, so it’s your job to keep realigning what’s possible in the ever-changing climate. Acknowledge reality to your team and then instill hope and structure for a way forward. Your organization can’t expect their priorities and goals to be the same as they were when first penned. It’s up to you to translate reality into possibility for your team.
4.) Set Obnoxiously Clear Expectations
On three points (which I think have been missing on a national and global scalepertaining to the pandemic):
1. On when and how people can expect you to communicate clarity
2. On exactly what’s expected of them.
3. On what success looks like in the short and long term, and how it’s measure
5.) Manage Tightly
You will need to manage processes and systems more in this season than ever before (and that is expected of you) – keep a tight watch on cash flow, get involved in more minutia, handle more fires, hover over decisions, etc. This will be challenging to leaders accustomed to ‘majoring in the macro,’ however, I believe you will see compounding fruit in the health of your organization by managing tightly during this crisis.
Some of that fruit may be closer relationships with your team members or a greater understanding of the day-to-day that in other seasons, you don’t have the time to appreciate.
Greatness is made up of a multitude of good, small decisions over time–especially
in valley seasons.
6.) Lead Graciously
We must give everyone extraordinary amounts of grace while also fostering a culture of
imbalanced amounts of grace amongst the team – for their emotions and anxieties, for
gaps in communication, for things that fall through the cracks. Keep in mind – work is taking a back seat more than ever to other life priorities. Check in on their spouses. Their kids. Serve their families, not just the employees, like never before.
Remember as you look at everyone in the eyes (on Zoom!): they have a life story being written that you probably have no idea about.
7.) Don’t Waste the Crisis
Now is the time to hyper-focus on priorities that are not dependent on the virus and external factors. You have likely been reminded in this season of just how much is out of your control; the good news is, that doesn’t apply to everything. You still have the power to affect change and grow.
A good exercise is to list important organizational priorities that are in no way tied to the external circumstances that are outside of your control.
○ How can we use this time to get better so we can get bigger when the time comes?
- Create the legal agreement you’ve been putting off.
- Make the client website updates that take them to the next level.
- Formalize the profit-sharing program so employees know they are still being considered.
- Clean up your corporate Dropbox account and get your files organized.
○ Do All Your Backburner Actions (that would never otherwise get done)
- Update your phone contacts.
- Organize that drawer that causes anxiety in you.
- Call the people you haven’t called back in months.
- Knock out those thank you notes from 2019.
- Revise your To Do list for the remainder of the year.
8.) Ask for Help
Find areas where it could be a win-win to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength – to identify gaps and fill them appropriately. Leaders, I challenge you to look at your organization or your family and identify your biggest place of need – and fill it with a helpful resource. And the reality is, we all need help more than ever before. Identify and act.
9.) Isolate the noise and create your own little cocoon of peace for your
Focus on your thing and block out as much of the noise that is wise. Include only external
“crisis” information that’s relevant in your communications. Avoid sharing rumors, toxic news, uncorroborated data, or speculation. Communicate only firm facts and their direct organizational impact.
Relentlessly protect the fort from the bullets.
10.) Don’t let external losing cause a loss in organizational winning
The world may appear to be losing – lives, employment, numbers, political dramaeconomic stability. Don’t throw in the towel because that’s what the data or media suggest to do. At the onset of the pandemic, I posed the question to our organization, “What would it truly look like to get through this totally unscathed? If one division suffers, how do we over deliver in another division?” I challenged our team to still try to beat last year’s numbers – crazy! My goal to cause us to think differently about revenue generation and our business model. It’s also important in this season to share ALL wins – big and small.
Even sharing seemingly small wins creates exponential momentum and unexplainable energy.
11.) Let Shortage Expose Waste
Early on in the crisis, we went through a cost cutting exercise, which I’m so glad this caused us to do, because it exposed unnecessary expense and costs that could easily be reduced. Our COGS will be so much tighter and we will continue to benefit even post-crisis. Every organization should be going through this exercise and will be so glad they did once there’s a period on COVID-19.
What if you came out of this and could say “We created GREATNESS in our cost controls!”
12.) Understand Your Role in The Greater Story
I challenge you to sit and reflect, and for you to understand in the depths of your soul, that THIS ISN’T YOUR FAULT. You losing your job. Your company on the brink. You laying people off. Those aren’t in any way a reflection of you or your leadership. I’ve heard from other leaders who are personalizing it and that pains me. Please take an hour to sit in silence and repeat over and over: I am a good leader and this isn’t my fault. I will do all in my power to create greatness amidst the storm. I will thrive.
My hope is that you wouldn’t let this crisis be defined by purely surviving, but thriving. That down the road, you could look back on this season as one that set the foundation for future greatness and as one that exposed the true leader in you – beaming with hope, overflowing with compassion, and extraordinary in action.
We. Will. Thrive.
– Jayson Teagle
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About Jayson Teagle
Jayson Teagle, the Founder and CEO of Collideoscope, has quickly become one of the most sought-after brand architects, talent managers, and speaking agents in the global leadership space. Currently, Jayson has a roster of notable names such as Dr. Henry Cloud, Ginger Hardage, and David Salyers in his portfolio, among others. Since its inception in 2015, Jayson has guided Collideoscope through significant growth as an organization all while helping clients reach new levels of success.
In just 4 short years, Collideoscope has overseen New York Times best-selling book launches, architected over 10 personal brands for leaders, built million dollar business lines for clients, helped catapult a book into the top 25 worldwide on Amazon, conducted multiple six-figure product launches, brokered major sponsorship, licensing, and endorsement deals, launched new speaking careers, created and sold out live events, generated major media placements, and booked clients on some of the largest and most influential speaking platforms. Collideoscope has established itself as the global category leader in managing high-profile leaders.
Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!