I don’t invest a lot of my time in political drama. Watching the news, no matter who’s in office makes me a little queasy. And social media feeds are awash with content from questionable sources. That being said, it’s obvious, even to me, that things are changing at an incredible pace. Not only is there breaking news from Congress everyday, but rapid change is happening on the ground too. Many of the long standing organizations and leaders that I’ve grown to know here in Chicago are disappearing by the minute. New power-structures are being formed. Elders are retiring or passing on, many of them without successors to carry on their life’s work. The good news is, there are plenty of new and exciting leaders emerging as well.
That being said, our worlds are changing so fast, there’s no use predicting what will happen. So the only thing left to do is diligently prepare for the best and…less than the best.
Build your infrastructure. Immediately after the election we mashed the gas on building up our foundational structures. It was all about the back office stuff that got the white glove treatment. Accounting, cyber security, payroll, contracts and processes. This is the annoying little stuff that doesn’t have a major affect on your service or product but needs to be fixed. This is about finally taking time to put all your passwords in one secure place so that you can stop guessing them every time you log in. It’s the phone extension you haven’t changed in your email signature. The sticky door in the hallway. Spend time cleaning up little things that slow productivity and communication between members of your staff and clients/customers.
Plan for Major Developments. Do all the members of your staff currently have the skills to handle a project that’s a little above their current job description? If your star player leaves the company, can the rest of your team up to handle their workload? Are they confident enough in themselves to make tough decisions based on your company values? Look across the organization and check on your weakest links. What can you do to support employee growth and immediately begin making good on those promises. Now is also a perfect time for actively pursuing certifications such as MBE/WBE Status, Project Management certifications, etc. Any shortcomings that will keep you or has kept you from getting a grant or a contract in the past is a candidate for activation.
Re-evaluate your eco-system. Are you spending too much time with people who are not adding real support or value? Perhaps there are people you’ve been meaning to reconnect with but haven’t had the time? Now’s the time to tighten those connections. Ask yourself, if shit hits the fan, how can I help this person? How can they help me? Who are the tremendously valuable people my network that are being overlooked? Carve out some time to break out the old Rolodex and re-connect with people that you, 1. actually like (<- Important!) and 2. can build a mutally beneficial relationship with.
Our success as leaders in this country will depend largely on our ability to recognize that we’re all shipmates on the same boat. I’m calling for a compassionate ban on whining and complaining and excuses. As individuals, we have to become the leaders we’ve been asking for so that we can be stronger teammates. This next era will not only test us individually. It will also test our collective integrity, strength, and agility.