The last few weeks have been enlightening in many ways. By their sheer nature, crises are unpredictable, however the one that we are facing currently seems to be pushing all boundaries of unpredictability. Discussions with senior leaders and fellow board members show that the following four main categories should be the focus of most boards, alongside business contingent planning:
- Be available – Coherent communication is the need of the hour whether it is to your employees, investors, creditors or debtors. As a Board you need not go into a “doing” mode to solve the crisis. You need to make sure that there is a clear communication from you to your Senior Leadership Team (SLT) that you are there for them and they can call you to discuss any aspect, big or small. This is a time when they need someone to listen. It does not matter whether you can offer a solution, if yes, well and good, else just being the sounding board would be a great help to the SLT.
- Be positive – While you need to be available for the SLT, do not overwhelm them with help. SLT is aware of the issues that the business is facing currently and in future, your role is to show how well the team can tackle the situation while keeping a positive and growth mindset. It seems for the unforeseeable future; we will be operating in this unknown “unknown” environment. Your ideas to help SLT with resource (which is scarce) allocation and redefining risks, will be of immense value. We all need to embrace the cultural and behavioural shifts happening due to these uncertain situations.
- Work your network – This is the time to call in favours, use your network. Someone whom you knew in your first job, some friend from university, some colleague from your past organisation, members of other Boards which you are part of – just open up your contact list. You never know who can help the business and currently everyone is in a collaborative mode, so help does come by. Also, this is a time to work with wider stakeholders, as we have seen, the state is a large stakeholder at present.
- Think outside the box – With the years of experience, this is the time to put your lateral thinking to use. Think of the changes to be made, how to position the business differently, what flexibility does the business have if it has to change course. Redefine the risk strategy, think of survival as well as the exit strategy. This is the time when innovative thinking can save or sink businesses.
In summary stay focussed with a growth mindset, supporting the management and above all, stay positive!!
Sampa Bhasin is a NED, business mentor and executive coach with years of investment banking experience. She is a NEDonBoard member.
Related post: How to recalibrate in a crisis
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