Plan of Action

by Jo Anne Nelson on November 14, 2011

In the chaos of the current economic changes, it’s easy to listen to the doom and gloom and believe that there’s little to be done to successfully move forward. The best path may be to hunker down, cut costs and ride out the storm. Once things return to normal, you’ll be ok.

Sorry to tell you, but this will not likely lead you out of your current challenges. Normal is being redefined for most, if not all, markets. Those that will succeed and lead in today and tomorrow’s economy, will step into the challenge and will proactively move into designing new futures.

How do you do that? Here are nine steps for a plan of action:

Step One: Slow Down to Speed Up

Take the time to step outside the day-to-day to reflect on your circumstances, refocus your vision and re-center your strategy. Plan implementation, match commitments with competencies, and take the risk of being a beginner. Bring in a thinking partner to help you survey the landscape and sort through the options. Good preparation accelerates execution.

Step Two : Declare Breakdowns in Real Time

Acknowledge mistakes, address concerns, accept responsibility, demonstrate accountability. Remember, trust is a function of sincerity, reliability and competency. Check in—are you being sincere? Are you reliable (do what you commit to do when you commit to do it)? Are there new competencies you and/or your team need to build to turn the tide? When there are breakdowns, immediately declare them, re-true to purpose, innovate and move into action.

Step Three: Apologize

When you screw up, make a sincere and honest apology. Do not mince words. Apologies are often the most powerful moves you can make.

Step Four: Open a Forum for Discussion

Listen to and acknowledge concerns. Honor the sincerity, concerns, identities and dignity of your people. When you do, you open a space for constructive dialog about how to move forward.

Step Five: Be Honest

Be honest. Tell it like it is. When we withhold the truth, people know it. Trust is broken. When we disclose our truths, trust builds, dignity is upheld, and new possibilities unfold.

Step Six: Reframe the Story

Enroll your team in a renewed vision for the future. Engage them in designing the path forward. What is it that you are going to produce together? How will it be different? How will change be implemented and measured? What will be the game plan and execution road map for getting there?

Step Seven: Set and Model New Standards

Culture is built from the top down. One of the key jobs of the leader is to set clear standards for the organization and embody them. Create the structure your teams need to unleash creative engagement.

Step Eight: Walk the Talk

Treat your people with dignity, acknowledge that they are the core asset of your company, engage their creativity, bring clarity of focus to their actions, and personally model the standards you set while acting with authenticity, integrity, and courage.

Step Nine: Invest in Talent

Build your team’s capacity to relate, create, communicate and coordinate. Notice how they relate to one another, to customers. Are they in silos where it’s us against them? Or do they see themselves as willing, entrepreneurial collaborators?
Choosing to cut funds for development as the going gets rough? Finding yourself isolating, turning away from open conversations with your team? The organizations that will be successful in the current market will be those who invest in people and build their capacity to be resourceful, to innovate, to listen to and respond to the concerns of their customers.

Those who lead will be the ones who dig deep, have the audacity to take a stand, and dare to change. Where are you in this equation?

Jo Anne Nelson

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