Leadership Agility: Necessity is The Mother of Invention

Great leaders find the time to think about these questions on their own, with their colleagues, and with their teams. As we come out of lockdown (again), it’s a good time to ask “how will you continue to harness your organization’s drive and creativity over the next period?”

Mezzana Partner William Winstone writes – In my first job in a small tech company, the MD asked me to produce a budget spreadsheet for the year ahead, including a section for the sales force. Naively, I asked if we asked the salespeople for their next year’s targets. “No, we tell them,” was the definitive reply as a 20% increase was decided upon, “because necessity is the mother of invention.”

I’ve never forgotten his words and the demands of the pandemic have again demonstrated the power of necessity as a positive force for change. This has driven enormous invention from every sector, from coffee shops to hospitals, and every organization rethinking their approach to remote working and how they engage with clients and colleagues.

As we come out of lockdown (again), it’s a good time to ask “how will you continue to harness your organization’s drive and creativity over the next period?”

Looking Back

Well, start by asking the following questions:

  • What have you achieved that was extraordinary over the past year?
  • What momentum do you want to maintain?
  • What improved processes and decision making will you keep on evolving?

These questions will help you focus your attention, but on their own, they are not enough. At the heart of last year’s successes has been the unifying, galvanizing and creativity-generating power of necessity. Whilst it’s likely COVID will be with us going forwards, what else can you tap into that will provide this energy?

Looking Ahead

This requires every organization, team and leader to revisit their purpose, direction and picture of success.

  • What are we now here to do?
  • Why are we here?
  • Why should we and our customers care about what we do?
  • If we do this really well, what will success look like, especially for our customers, and also for ourselves?
  • And finally, what must we focus on over the next 3, 6 and 12 months that will drive this success?

Great leaders find the time to think about these questions on their own, with their colleagues, and with their teams. In this way, they create and re-create purpose and direction for all, that has a different cadence to the waves of anxiety and urgency of the last year. These are the conversations that we design and facilitate when we help teams become and stay high performing.

Regeneration

A word of caution, because necessity has its limitations – great as a driver in a crisis, but likely to be the cause of burnout if always relied upon as a motivator, creating a frantic culture where the machine is simply running too hot for too long.

So as you look back and look forward, take time also to look at yourselves and take stock of your energy levels. Whilst purpose regenerates and helps us to go again, so does rest, recharge and reconnection.

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