Reminder: Charting A Course Through Desperate Times

Reminder: Charting A Course Through Desperate Times

Category : 2022

Skilled mariners know there is no margin for error when charting a course. Careful review of a map’s scale, notes and corrections from other sailors, GPS positions, and visual and radar fixes are critical data points for any sailor wanting to reach an intended destination. Marine Insight states that, “The safety of navigations depends upon the quality and reliability of chart plotting . . . A wrong course line or position can mislead the vessel and . . . make way to accidents.”

Charting a course through relentless market and business uncertainty requires the same planning and attention to detail required to sail across an ocean. Our last blog Desperate Times mentioned the lodestar to which an executive is wise to chart a course–market your expertise, not your experience. This fixed point of reference helps ensure a leader is not bringing yesterday’s solution to today’s challenge.

Here are two more navigation points that will help a leader sail with certainty throughout the new year.

Give more attention to your systems than your goals.

Carefully worded goals are like navigation points for a mariner. Goals tell us where we are going. They define a desired outcome. They articulate the intent of a vision or mission. Goals are woefully inadequate at ensuring their own achievement. Atomic Habits author James Clear captures this reality by simply stating, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

In this insightful book, Clear points out that many people want to be financially stable but cannot create or are unwilling to follow a system that will make that goal a reality. Masses of people say they want to “get in shape” while never finding or following a system that can result in a long-term change in behavior. If having a goal of writing a book was all that was required, publishers would be overwhelmed with worthy submissions from new authors.

An executive wanting to sail through the high seas looming on the corporate horizon will invest time in evaluating, adjusting, or building a system that ensures relevance and articulates expertise through a clear brand message that is effective across all channels of personal communication. A prepared leader will proactively identify roles and opportunities not yet defined, where she/he can bring value.

Separate yourself from the status quo without threatening those whose survival depends on it.

Any executive wanting to create opportunities at any port-of-call faces the dicey challenge of separating from the status quo that is carefully nurtured and protected by those who depend on the homeostasis of the present to survive. An emerging leader charting a course into the future may discover someone who built an enterprise, to whom a leader owes much of his/her early success, now cares more about personal survival than proactive succession.

By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be age 65 or older. The average age of a Fortune 500 CEO is 57. Knowing these three facts, it is not an exaggeration to predict a dramatic shift in the power centers at many enterprises during the next 5-7 years. It is worth considering that the reason some boards and senior teams aren’t giving more attention to thoughtful succession planning is they are happily rowing in the waters of denial, or they aren’t confident they have people ready to assume the leadership of an enterprise. Executives wanting to accept greater levels of responsibility will purposefully and carefully find ways to demonstrate they are ready, capable, and can be trusted to lead a company without destroying what previous leadership birthed and nurtured.

William Ward reminded us, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” As businesses emerge from the financial tsunami of a global pandemic, it is time for leaders serious about their futures to set sail, navigate a course, adjust for the winds, and plan for a wild ride to a positive outcome.

If you would like help exploring some new seas, connect with the skilled mariners at Leapfrog Executive Services.