Business leaders: why now is the time to focus on the possible

Words: Mark Bates

"The best leaders are getting the simple message across – there are elements that we cannot control, but there certainly are elements we can"

No matter the size, businesses across the globe are facing an unprecedented challenge from the Covid-19 outbreak. With an ever-changing situation – each time bringing similarly ever-changing restrictions and obstacles – business leaders are having to find the balance between following public health responsibilities and finding the next best move for their business. 

Although entrepreneurs are typically hardwired to taking calculated risks, these uncertain times can make even the most experienced business owners anxious about what lies ahead. With that in mind, and before the national lockdown, we invited Dr Liz Jackson MBE, Marketing Director at BCMS, Rob Whittaker, Group Chairman of Vistage, and BCMS CEO Jonathan Dunn to share their thoughts on the current situation. Speaking to us at a makeshift studio in the BCMS boardroom, they were able to offer real insight into taking charge of these challenging circumstances. 

A challenge for the whole community

Whether pivoting operations or simply keeping a careful and more frequent eye on cashflow, business leaders may feel compelled to quickly create a long-term strategy. But while business clearly cannot continue as usual, the spirit of the entrepreneur can still be put to effective use.  

As Liz Jackson suggests, while it is easy to be overwhelmed by the severity of the situation, it can help to focus on the short term for a while. "Take each day as it comes and each problem as it arises...Give yourself the space to use your intellect and your teams creatively to move through issues one at a time."

With any strategy in this climate, there is an even greater emphasis on communication - not only internally between management and staff, but also between the wider business community. Although it often feels like it, business leaders shouldn’t view this as something to manage alone.

"The best leaders are getting the simple message across – there are elements that we cannot control, but there certainly are elements we can. How are we going to solve these individual problems?" says Rob Whittaker, pointing out that this simple mindset can help keep energy high and maintain focus for employees.

Being clear and open about objectives beyond the business can also help to provide some help and comfort when solving day-to-day problems. As Jonathan Dunn explains "We’ve tried to speak to every one of our clients, just to be a friend as much as an advisor. People will – like us – be completely shocked by what is happening, and we need each other at times like this."

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