On April 9, 2020, we launched Unleashed, a series designed to bring you tools, strategies, and best practices to unleash your business potential. Each episode of Unleashed is focused on providing timely and relevant thought-leadership from prominent guest speakers.

Our first guest was John Spence, a global authority on business leadership and strategy. He has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Business Thought Leaders and is the author of several books including his best seller “Awesomely Simple.”

Where to Focus

It’s easy in times like these to get focused on things we are not able to control: the pandemic, the politics and the overall economy. As leaders we need to be aware of these factors, but real effort needs to go into the things we CAN control. John suggests that business leaders need to put most of their efforts into these five areas:

  1. Employee morale – take amazing care of your employees; appreciate them.
  2. Celebrating wins – any time something good happens, big or small, recognize it. Communicate. And then communicate again.
  3. Quality of work – be good, really good, at what you do. Constantly strive towards excellence.
  4. Getting close to your customer – closer than you’ve ever been before. Be authentic and caring.
  5. Focusing on financials and key metrics – be proactive and plan several scenarios based on different triggers and thresholds. By doing this in advance we can take some of the emotion out of the hard decisions we may have to make.

When it comes to the quality of work, John referenced the 4 Ps for becoming world-class in what you are doing:

  • Passion.
  • Persistence.
  • Practice.
  • Pattern Recognition

The Change Cycle

Change follows a pattern, and as leaders, if we understand that pattern, we can locate ourselves and validate how we might be feeling along the way. Armed with this information, we can also help our employees navigate through the process too. Although the goal is to move forward through all of the stages to the “new normal”, it’s not unusual for people to move backward in the process.

The stages in the Change Cycle are:

  • Stability – we begin in a place of relative certainty and predictability.
  • BAM! – we are struck by the change force. Often, we are immobilized; we freeze.
  • Denial -we begin to tell ourselves “it’s not so bad” or “it won’t affect me.”
  • Anger – we get mad at the situation, another person, or the world in general.
  • Depression – we are the victim. We go quiet, pessimistic.
  • Testing – we begin to test new ideas and solutions.
  • Stability again – we experiment proactively until we land on the “new normal.”

Getting Close to Customers

John’s expertise came through in his ability to provide simple tools, approaches, and checklists. In the realm of customer connections, he recommends checking in personally, by phone, with every customer at least once per month if not more often. He recommends these questions as an agenda for the call.

  • How are you doing? Personally? Family? Professional?
  • On a scale of 1-10, where do you see your company in 1-3 months?
  • On a scale of 1-10, where do you see your company in 1 year?
  • What can we do to help you now?
  • Keep communicating, don’t go dark.

His experiences through other crisis situations (like 9-11 for example) have been that people tend to be overly pessimistic in the short-term (3 months) and overly optimistic in the longer-term. Being aware of this can provide valuable insights for planning.

Next Steps

If you would like help to improve your business in these turbulent times, please reach out via our contact form.

You can watch the entire episode below. Further, if you are interested in this and other topics to unleash the potential of your business, you can watch all the episodes of Unleashed by subscribing to our Youtube channel.