2020 has been a wild and bumpy year, and it doesn’t appear that the ride will smooth out anytime soon. As we were cast into this pandemic, many organizations hunkered down and strategized on how to get through this inconvenient retooling of what we call business. The focus was on short-term initiatives until COVID was under control or gone, states could reopen, and everything would get back to normal.
Now ten months into this crazy new reality, organizations need the guidance and support of consultants more than ever. Leadership teams are swirling with so much information that literally seems to change daily. There are no standardized sets of facts from which to make solid decisions. They are challenged to make decisions that will have a long-standing impact on how their business or organization is run and how their customers, profitability, and employees will be impacted.
Most small to medium-sized organizations do not have internal resources equipped to navigate this new reality, and the leadership teams are inundated by their new responsibilities and decisions. I was invited to participate in an Executive Courtesy biweekly Zoom call that two fellow consulting colleagues put together shortly after the pandemic started shutting down the US. They started the calls to create a community of business leaders to give them a forum to talk, learn, and support each other through their daily leadership challenges. This international group includes businesses and organizations across most industries, government, and non-profits. My colleagues started this support mechanism with the vision, “Let’s lead with our hearts and not our wallets.” A very commendable vision at that!
As this group has grown and evolved, they have become a real resource for discussing challenges and comparing notes. They like the fact that they are talking peer to peer about critical issues. They like the fact that two consultants facilitate the call to provide guidance and the ability to ask thought-provoking questions helping the participants get out of their own minutiae and look at issues from new perspectives. The participants leave the hour call feeling refreshed, reenergized, and infinitely more positive as they head back to their existing and new leadership responsibilities.
Some of the conversations have included and continue to include the following:
- Communication to employees and team members.
- What message needs to be communicated: day 1, day 90, day 120, day 300?
- Employee work structure: must be on-site/essential worker, can do the job remotely, now only wants to do the job remotely, we need a blended solution.
- Team development: do we have the right team members in the right roles? How can we effectively reskill our team members for new responsibilities that never existed before.
- How do we manage and lead from afar?
- How can we boost morale?
- How are outside circumstances impacting our culture?
- How do we bring people back to the workplace when there will never be a 100% guarantee of safety?
And as you might imagine, the list of conversations goes on. The definition of a consultant is someone that can share professional expert advice, and the definition of a coach is someone who can ask you the right questions in order for you to self discover the best plan of action. In many cases, our experience shows that working with someone who has both skill sets is the best combination. Because some times, it is appropriate to help someone self discover the best right action, and sometimes it is helpful to get real succinct guidance. The answer, as you might guess, is situational.
If you are part of a leadership team swirling through the current uncertainty, it is alright to ask for help and find a consultant/coach that is committed to being in your corner. You do not have to figure it out on your own.
If you have been considering leveraging your professional expertise into a consulting practice so you can successfully impact multiple clients simultaneously, be certain that there many organizations that could benefit from your services now.