Any leaders that are not already on a war footing and preparing to fundamentally change their organizations for the foreseeable future must start moving today.
Here’s what that means.
First, don’t hunker down. At the height of the Royal Navy’s dominance, British naval officers, impressive in ornate uniforms, were expected to stand erect on the ship’s decks during battles, clearly exposed to enemy fire. It was not that little value was placed on their lives. Rather, ever greater value was placed on their leadership. Their job was to be visible to their sailors, and show calm amid the chaos. Today’s leaders must also stand and be visible to their organizations, their communities, and their families.
Second, demonstrate candor — and demand it from the leaders below you. In combat, when things look bad, the front line troops always know it before the leadership. Denying reality makes your people assume you’re either lying or out of touch. Organizations can handle bad news and tough times if they feel their leaders are focused on solving the issues at hand. Today’s leaders must be honest with their people to a level that will and should feel uncomfortable.
Third, give up more authority than feels natural.