2022 has been an interesting year
Taking a moment to reflect on 2022 reveals a year full of global events that proved the making of many leaders. It also proved to be the downfall of others. So, as we look ahead, will 2023 be full of promise or more instability?
You may be wondering why I frame 2022 as a year that made many leaders when we consider some of the disruptive global events. How can conflicts, inflation, supply chain disruptions, sector job losses, or labour-relations disputes be promising opportunities? The events themselves are often anything but positive. It is the opportunity within them to step up and forge a constructive way forward that provides the silver lining.
During moments of disruption, adversity, or loss, we have a choice. We can choose to hold onto our status quo, grow or recede. In any change we are presented with moments of learning, strength and growth but only if we are open to seeing and seizing the opportunity.
A case in point of individuals that seized the moment includes Volodymyr Zelenskyy (President of Ukraine), Ketanji Brown Jackson (US Supreme Court Judge), and Ursula von der Leyen (EU President). Each of them demonstrated leadership, character, poise, determination, and grit to forge through difficult moments or decisions.
We could each identify leaders that, with the benefit of hindsight, chose destructive paths. Leaders in this category tend to make decisions based on self-interest, ideology, social status, or in haste. They also typically tend to polarise public opinion.
So how do we see and constructively seize the moments in 2023?
Preparing for moments
Agility is the new gold dust
Being agile speaks to the ability to pivot on a dime, so to speak. This means accepting that future change or uncertainty is inevitable and that we need to develop the foundation from which to adapt at a moment’s notice. For instance, leaders need solid and dependable data upon which to make a decision to pivot quickly. Imagine a world where inflation is in double digits and there are no readily accessible response examples you can draw upon. Double-digit inflation is not something you’ve seen in your career, and neither have your peers. What do you turn to now?
This is where data comes in. Data that is granular, localized, contextualized, and coupled with external inputs (i.e.: comparative trends) is necessary to inform strategic decision-making. Not just that, but also to pinpoint risks and opportunities which the company can leverage. The data allows rapid confident decision-making when it is supported by the best information available.
A key leadership skill, beyond decision-making, is ensuring that the data infrastructure is in place well before a pivot might be necessary.
Prepare for large-scale global change
The devil is in the detail as the saying goes. Let’s consider sustainability reporting standards. While the framework of international sustainability standard reporting requirements has been agreed upon, there remains a plethora of application and measurement details left to work through which could create a new wave of uncertainty. So, as companies brace for change in sustainability management and reporting, they need to remain vigilant to these external events. Good leaders will fully explore the scope of strategic risks and opportunities in each jurisdiction. In the end, leaders that truly understand the details and nuances of the new sustainability reporting standards could gain a competitive advantage.
It is easy to get distracted by the doom-saying news cycle during periods of uncertainty. We frequently saw that happening during the pandemic creating still-unfolding global mental health issues.
Having business contingency plans in place are necessary, however, we also need to ensure they remain consistently relevant. A business opportunity can present itself at any moment in time, and often do so during periods of uncertainty. Good leaders are always prepared, as the Scout Motto goes, for these full of promise moments.
The year ahead will be either full of promise or full of more uncertainty depending on how well-prepared we are. By adopting a large-scale, agile, and positive mindset leaders set themselves up well to leverage opportunities and manage risks in any environment. How prepared are you to get the most out of 2023?
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