There are significant shifts in their immediate landscape. 34% of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London said more than half their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. Very few people now work in just one team; in fact, employees are working in nearly twice the number of teams they did compared to five years ago. Increasingly, teams from different functions are being brought together to complete discrete projects, and then disbanding, before moving on to the next project.
In this landscape, teams are required to reach high performance in a shorter space of time than ever before. Leaders and teams must be equipped to anticipate and navigate challenges, building their skills and capabilities to enable them to be agile, and to thrive and survive the next strategic challenge they face as a team.
As I reflect on my own experience over the last few years, and think about the number of transformational change programmes and strategic projects I’ve been involved in, and the number of different teams I’ve been part of - from client teams, to global functional teams, to project teams, to regional teams - well, it resonates strongly.
My reflection in the face of all this change is that there will be no end-point; change is the new norm, so the need to focus on how you set yourself and your team up for success to thrive and survive in this environment is key.
Learning how to deal with this uncertainty, and understanding how to regulate your own response to remain resilient and resourceful, will be critical to you thriving and surviving. When you perceive an imminent change or threat, self-protection or preservation is the natural response. Your primitive emotional brain kicks in and can reduce your ability to think rationally, make decisions, solve problems, and collaborate. But these are the skills that we most need in order to thrive, so how do we manage our response and adapt to the changing demands of our environment in a more resourceful way?
Acknowledging the limits of what you can control and letting go of your expectations is the first step - perfectly summed up in my husband’s favourite quote, ‘May your life unfold smoothly with ease’. This is about focusing on your sphere of control and influence. Easier said than done you might say; however, the turning point for me in mastering this was to focus on creating a solid home base for myself.
A home base is not something physical; it’s about creating a feeling of certainty for yourself. Once you have your home base, the things you don’t have control over cannot take hold: you can choose how you respond, you can be more resilient and you can adapt. My home base is tied to feeling secure in my ability to continuously adapt my skills and capabilities. As my environment changes or the organisation evolves, I know that my skills, abilities and ultimate value also need to evolve. By spending a little time in my home base, I can take stock of what is changing in my environment and focus on the skills and abilities I need to develop or find flexibility in. This way I can stay ahead of, or at least at pace with, the changes that are unfolding. All of this is completely within my sphere of control; for me, this is an empowering and resourceful mindset to hold.
The first step is slowing down to a stop and indulging yourself with some time in which to reflect. For some people, doing nothing or mindfully being in the moment enables them to be open to the continuous feed of information coming from their environment can work well. For others, a more active approach may work better; drawing on feedback or working with a home base mentor, someone who can help them hold the mirror up and challenge their perception of reality and ground them in a resourceful mindset.
For example, here are some things you might consider in times of overwhelming change or demands: