We asked dozens of owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders what is most important for them to position their companies for success, and here are some key takeaways.
Well, we are slow in agility, lagging in vitality, and seem to be trying to build resiliency through complacency. We can and need to do better.
Leaders had the greatest confidence in the productivity of their people. This is excellent! There is no question that leaders have done right for employees during the pandemic by protecting them. Yet, employees are saying they are not only open to change, they want it. Now is the time to push ahead.
By supporting strong relationships between employees working virtually and giving greater autonomy and authority to own how they work, leaders opened the doors for people to ask questions and work together openly and honestly. These factors created connection, control, and, most importantly, the sense of composure to manage their emotions and responses to the pace of change around them.
Ross Argante and Greg White, owners of Integrated Staffing, an innovative Atlantic Canadian company providing contract and temporary staffing solutions, see relationships as the foundation of their business, “Communication became critically important as we adapted to the changing economic climate presented by the pandemic. In a time of vulnerability, we did what we do best: communicate openly and honestly with our clients, our candidates, and our team. We increased the frequency of our team huddles in a virtual environment and continued to share goals, progress, and challenges as a team. No one has a roadmap to navigate this pandemic, but strong communication allows us to take steps forward together.”
Argante and White also talked with their teams about innovation and changing how things are done.
We found caution was greatest around revenue generation, where leaders only had a confidence level of 67 percent in the readiness of their businesses for the future. Leaders showed responsiveness to supporting employees in our new working arrangements yet have not been as agile with generating revenues. One critical concern was the perceived inability to form partnerships, collaborating with other organizations and companies to create new business opportunities. Challenges to work with and invest in other businesses held leaders back – denying them one of the proven paths to improving results in tough times.
Those entrepreneurs who excelled at partnering saw a 24 percent increase in revenue generation readiness—yet very few said they took the partnership path.
The key issue uncovered in our survey of business leaders was the impact of communication. Without a clear and consistent message, confidence in leadership dropped by 23 percent in all areas. People are looking for purpose, what they are doing and why it matters, communicated regularly. Employees and teams want to know what is important, what the priorities are, and hear it more often. Without clarity of message, everyone drifts to what is in front of them, and doubt grows.
One action leaders can take to position their company for success going forward is to focus on a clear and consistent message. People want to hear from leaders more and about the purpose of the business, to bring everyone together. And not just one way – employees want a conversation! And this is where more of a leader’s time should be placed.
Rob Lane, CEO, and Mike Reeves, President, of Mobia Technology Solutions (Mobia.io), know communications supports growth. Mobia offers fully integrated solutions for digital transformation from culture to technology, infrastructure to security, and has continued to grow over the last six months through their authentic investment in communication. In their words:
“Communication isn’t one direction; in a healthy environment, it is multidirectional. Above maintaining a solid cadence of communication, it’s become increasingly evident of the value in being an authentic leader; meaning honesty—sometimes brutal, and transparency are more important now than ever before. People do not want to be fed false information and partial truths to make them feel better. Promoting authenticity throughout the company leads to more meaningful communications, increased trust, and better alignment with the company culture.
We are not saying we have perfected this, but we are working hard to create a culture that encourages people to share how they feel free of judgment. What am I worried about? What am I excited about? What inspires me? What am I doing for my company, my customers, my business partners that I am proud of? These are the roots of good communication and authentic leadership.”
The message from our first survey of business leaders is clear—invest time in communicating a message of purpose and support people to be connected to each other, to take ownership of their work, and to encourage two-way conversations. Do not just talk to the same people and hear the same voices, be open to hearing new perspectives and finding routes to innovation. Leaders need to communicate to earn the committed contribution of teams. Resilience will be rewarded with returns to the business.
You are busy, you do not have time, your head is down. Well, look up as clarity is the first step to confidence for you and your people, readying your business for outperformance.