Are You Ready? Are You Sure?

Are You Ready? Are You Sure?


"The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation – or a relationship." – Deborah Tannen

Whew, there has been a lot going on these last couple of months in the USA—the run up to the election, concerns regarding the financial cliff, escalating uprisings in the Middle East, and then there was monster storm Sandy! Her impact was felt by one-third of the country and the economic fallout will eventually impact us all. How quickly things can change.

No matter where I look or with whom I talk, I see business people increasingly struggling with accelerating change and increasing ambiguity. Assumptions they had made have been proven wrong, things they were counting on have vanished, competitors and/or customers have merged, plans they had used steered their course are coming undone. “I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all this” several have confided or boldly announced. “Where do we go next?”

So, the question is: How do we get our bearings and prepare for 2013 amid this increasing change and uncertainty? Gifted leaders I know go back to square one: they look outside and they look inside.

To look outside, they take deliberate steps to reevaluate what they know about the external world:

  • What has changed in the market?
  • What do we know about customers as they exist now?
  • What has changed for our customers?
  • How has all the change and uncertainty impacted their plans going forward?
  • Are there new opportunities to help them we haven’t uncovered?
  • Are we so busy with our own challenges that we have failed to really hear their needs and expectations today?

To look inside, they invest in deliberately reevaluating both their organizations and themselves. In re-examining their organizations, they not only look at the results, but also at:

  • The Internal perceptions of their team,
  • Goals, strategy and structure, including roles, responsibilities, skills
  • Processes
  • Their team’s ability to work together productively
  • Alignment of all the above.

When gifted leaders look inside, they also look at themselves:

  • Is there anything I am doing that may be inadvertently causing the very problems I want solved?
  • How much energy do I have left?
  • What do I need to do to refill my tank?
  • What kinds of supports do I need to put in place to help me cope with increasing change and ambiguity so that I can be of support to those around me?

Once these leaders have invested in looking both outside and within, then they have regained their bearings and are ready to take on the new year- energized and clearer about taking the next best step.

My wish for you is that amid the change and ambiguity, you take the time to stop, look, and listen so you can become reenergized and will be clearly positioned to grow and thrive in the coming months.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Manning.

Sallie Sherman is the CEO of S4 Consulting. She is an expert in helping organizational leaders transform the way they approach critical B2B relationships and implement the complex changes needed to manage those relationships as strategic assets. Sallie has written two books.