“How can our leaders decide what is top priority, when the playing field is constantly changing?” – Deputy Head Leadership & Culture Development, Global Insurance
Finding Your Polar Star
If you are a manager or leader and find yourself in this situation, here are four steps that you can implement immediately:
It is true – we often have the impression that the playing field is constantly changing. So take a moment and step back to see which megatrends are visible or emerging. Seeing things from a distance provides us with the bigger picture, one where we may be able to see connections, and thus one that may not seem as unstable.
Like Columbus in the middle of a restless ocean and surrounded by stressed out crews, you will need to find a fixed orientation, such as a “Polar Star”, that can keep you on track while you navigate the waters to where you need to be. Think of your Polar Star as your company’s core purpose.
Anything that supports your Polar Star journey is priority (important), anything else is supportive (urgent). Create a matrix and start with what is both important and urgent, then go to important, then to urgent. Do not pay attention to the rest (as resources are limited).
Communicate the items that are both urgent and important at least weekly, if not daily, so that your employees can also make the right decisions.
So where can you find your Polar Star? We believe that a company’s “raison d’être” is shaped by its customers. It is about networking with customers, being clear about the value-added they seek, and addressing that value-added need with exceptional products and services.
Note that it’s important to involve not only the people from your organisation in these four steps, but also those external to your organisation. Beliefs based on the past make it difficult to see priorities in changing environments, so make sure to welcome ideas from the outside — involve external partners, suppliers and of course your customers in the conversation.
The conclusion is that 21st century business results are achieved by organisations that continually change, adapt and review and so the only constant is change. Managers and leaders must understand how to plan for change, lead change, push for change and pull for change. How to lead change for high performance results is an important competence for leaders and so should be a priority topic for development.
Let us know how you get on!