It really is tough to find an optimistic perspective on everything that we currently face with this global pandemic. With good reason, the intensity of what we collectively face gives little reason to look forward with anything but a deep sense of angst. While there are undoubtedly thousands of acts of kindness and bravery happening around the world at any given moment—I want to take a moment to see a once in a lifetime opportunity that is emerging. An opportunity for our lives, both literally and figuratively speaking.
I want to start with a simple thought exercise. If I were to make you leader of the world, and I was to give you all the money you want, all the goodwill that you can ask for, all the technology you could imagine and a world that is in desperate need of your direction— what might you do? What future would you create?
Ok, let's be more specific.
If you're a leader of an organization, you have access to rock bottom lending rates, the kinds of technologies that only decades ago you would have to spend millions to develop, a global marketplace of ideas and people. Your entire industry is likely in chaos, there are massive problems that the world is facing—and the world is turning to you and your peers for what to do. So what do you do?
While the former example is pure hyperbole the latter isn't. It's happening right now.
These are exceptionally sensitive times with people feeling displaced, the economy largely on hold and a very real health epidemic is dominating people's minds. Business as usual is likely not happening. So rather than contracting down into essential functions and hoping for the best, why not take the opportunity to examine your core values and determine what kind of company you believe can become once consumption, production and the markets begin to return to a normally operating capacity.
- Are there alternative industries you feel your organization can operate in?
- What changes will your industry face as a result of this?
- How will technology displace your company in future?
These are real questions that leaders need to be asking themselves if they want to thrive in a post-pandemic reality. Because as much as this pandemic is a crisis, it is much more an opportunity. An opportunity that rarely, if ever, comes around for a leader to really do the things they want.
The time is now for leaders to lead and create the future for themselves, their people and their companies in a way that lays aside the historical success barriers that once held them back. A future that can balance well-being of society, the economy, our environment and the individuals that are a part of this new journey.
Because as much as this pandemic is a crisis, it is much more an opportunity. An opportunity that rarely, if ever, comes around for a leader to really do the things they want.
There are undoubtedly hard choices that lay ahead with regards to people, capabilities, costs and suppliers that need to be made in these challenging times. But without a sense of what future you're trying to create for your company these choices get made in a total vacuum. A failure to act now will likely expose a leader, and their company, to what might be the largest explosion of innovative, disruptive companies that will take aim at every industry and every company. If we have massive worker displacement, continued access to revolutionary technologies, pent up energy from idle hands at home—then like an elastic band being pulled taught—an onslaught of companies targeting every single industry will likely happen.
So, if you're a leader in an organization that's facing these realities, it's your move. Whatcha gonna do?
A version of this article was first published on LinkedIn.