First and foremost this is an essay about listening. Listening to associates, friends, and colleagues who have known you for a while and whose council we should learn to trust more and more over time. I have the pleasure/honor to have a number of colleagues and friends whom I have worked with over the past 20+ years. One such friend/colleague (named Cathy) that I have worked closely with over the past 20+ years shared the advice which makes up the title of this essay.
Since the start of 2016, I have been busy with an expanding consulting business. All in all, I have worked with and eleven different clients this year ranging from small start-up food companies, to a global pharmaceutical company, to private equity firms and venture funds. As an operating executive with over 30 years of experience, I have been a bit surprised, challenged and inspired by the range of work and the dynamic client situations. I guess that’s one way of saying that it’s been a great year at Levisay Consulting LLC. (See more at www.levisayconsulting.com)
Now with all that said, I am currently busy with a number of clients who are facing significant moment s of change. Situations include dramatic changes in mgmt., strategic challenges with acquisitions, funding challenges and on-coming cash flow issues, predatory actions by competitors, and the list goes on. Everywhere I turn, I have clients who are dealing with organizations that seem literally on the edge of “coming apart,” and the stress/challenges that they are facing are significant and immediate. It is in this context that Cathy shared her “words of wisdom” last week.
It was in one of our daily calls; Cathy is active with me in the consulting business, that I shared the latest “craziness” in a certain client’s organization. As I was venting about the situation, trying to figure our MY best role and plan for attack, Cathy share that “you should be a voice of calm, with a bias for action.” Twelve simple words, spoken over an early morning phone call, so filled with wisdom and perspective! Immediately the words rang true and while they were certainly applicable to the situation I was dealing with that day, they were words of advice that are applicable in EVERY situation where I am working today. Lets dig into each element of her advice:
“Voice of Calm:” Her suggestion was not only for me to remain calm, but also to work on communicating that attitude to the clients and organizations where I am working today. Just as I have share the notion in a previous essay that leaders need to have a “teachable point of view,” not just a silent/quiet understanding of the work at hand, so Cathy is nudging me to be an active agent of “calm.”
“Bias for action:” So often in moments of challenge/change and stress, organizations get focused on and “scared” of all the change occurring, and literally become “immobilized” in their fear/concern. Leaders need to understand and acknowledge the issues at hand regardless of the situation, sympathizing and not ignoring the issues/problems of the current reality. It is equally true that leaders need to guide a path ahead, being action oriented in times of challenge, and focused on how to achieve a “better tomorrow.”
Well Cathy’s advice has really hit home, and I am working to bring those words to life across my client interactions today. She knows me well, and has a clear sense of what I can and should be doing to be more effective in my assignment of the moment. I hope that you all have people in you life like Cathy whom you can go to for advice, friends/colleagues that know you deeply and whose advice not only can help you, but all whom you touch!