Balancing optimism and realism in business

As yet a third possible ‘year like no other’ comes into focus, the time is ripe for business leaders to show their true mettle. The year ahead does not have to be all about COVID, waiting for new variants to emerge, and struggling with sales setbacks, and customer and talent retention.

Realistically, it will probably be another turbulent year. But, optimistically, it could be a year of revival and regeneration. The key to success is adopting a business mindset which incorporates leadership trends that steer the most effective path between realism and optimism. It’s a procedure called the Stockdale Paradox.

The Stockdale Paradox – have faith, but confront reality

Admiral James Stockdale was shot down during the Vietnam War and was for eight years the ranking officer in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prisoner-of-war camp. He explains how he survived personally, and led others, thus:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

How does this relate to a change in leadership and business mindset in 2022? Simply this: leaders don’t know how long the COVID pandemic will last, and its challenges cannot be ignored, but at the same time they cannot afford to get bogged down in the demands of the pandemic to the point where they create a culture of pessimism and a demoralised team.

Ways to navigate to business success by combining realism with optimism

Here are some practical measures you can adopt, to help support a business mindset shift across your teams.

  1.  Don’t let external events overshadow the compelling purpose of your business
    Before the word ‘COVID’ entered our vocabulary, your business had a purpose, and its leaders had a vision for implementing it. That purpose and vision must remain as your driving force. So, while it’s important to stay in control of the challenges the pandemic may throw at you, it’s even more vital to keep focusing on the bigger picture. Communicating this to your teams, and providing structure and goals incorporating your primary purpose, will support a more positive and optimistic mindset.
  2.  Expect and embrace change
    In the past two years, businesses and their employees have been obliged to implement more workplace changes than might normally be seen in two decades. Organisations have become more mobile and more agile in order to meet the changing business landscape, with the result that change has become one of the only constants. What is needed is another business mindset shift, so that change is anticipated and embraced instead of being resisted. Your teams will then expect your business to continue to evolve despite what’s happening in the external environment.
  3.  Propagate your team’s personal success and well-being
    Be proactive and regenerative in your approach to key talent retention. Aim to enrich your employees’ working lives and support their success and well-being. This is the third mindset shift, away from “How can I get the most out of them?” and towards “How can I make their time with us the most valuable for them?”. A flexible workplace and a real commitment to work/life balance will instill a more positive, employee-focused culture within the organisation. Acknowledge the difficulties of the current situation, but shift the focus away from the problems by putting the spotlight on what individuals need in order to be successful in their life.
    Let’s talk about optimism in business


Let’s talk about optimism in business

Would you like to put COVID back in its box for a while, and have a chat about leadership trends and business success? Our advisors are always ready to have an obligation-free conversation about how you could implement mindset changes in your business to further its development. We look forward to hearing from you.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

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