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CEO Insight- Transitions – where I’m putting my focus now

Olivier Herold

04 December 2020

For a while, we’ve had an extremely short-term outlook on life. Life became a series of 3 week chunks. Lockdown regulations, changing daily and weekly across every region, created short bursts of activity and immediate adaptations. Now it’s the longer haul. Looking ahead to next year, I wonder what lies in between and what can create conditions for us to operate in that long unknown space?

Questions going through my head are:

  • Is it too much to hope that it can be a time for growth?
  • How can we turn this hope to advantage?
  • What benefits could the past year bring us and how do we realise this potential?
  • What does a transition of this magnitude, from one world to another quite different one, almost overnight, actually mean for a business? 
  • How can we create a sense of stability for people with so many varied and significant uncertainties, with the ongoing questions about very practical aspects of working life?
  • What should we be role modelling in this transition?

Standing right alongside that, there’s a much bigger question: how can we as leaders address the sheer amount of data to process, emotions to feel and decisions to make, in and out of work? So where do you start?


Space to process and discern

We can create space and encourage our people to do the same. Sure, there’s a huge pressure to act, to get things done and that has to happen. If that’s all we do though we’re storing up pressure for the future and missing an opportunity right now. Imagine if we and everyone in our businesses really trusted that it was fine to take space, to listen to the shock waves rippling through our minds, hearts and bodies, through our organisations, and to let them tell us what we need to do next.

I believe that when people have space and trust that they can use it well, something special happens. People can calm down, become more discerning, make better decisions. What needs to be done becomes clearer and the painful things that can’t be fixed can be acknowledged and allowed to find their place.


Permission to prioritise wellbeing

How can we as leaders empower people to put their own wellbeing first when their own values mean they set the bar so high? As leaders, we can give clear, explicit permission for people to prioritise their own wellbeing, remembering though that leaders’ actions give unspoken signals which speak louder than words. Role modelling has taken on a new level of significance. Let’s show by example what caring for wellbeing means, whether it’s respecting email free times across the business or taking some time each day to go outside and get some air.  Accept that to build sustainable performance, people need to re-fuel. Giving people clear permission to rest as well as work will be key. That’s calling for re-thinking on sustainable workloads and a greater sense of humanity in setting expectations for 2021.

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