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Covid’s biggest question? How to find opportunity

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Covid’s biggest question? How to find opportunity

People who think differently and show a passion for achievement will drive your success

What do we do when existing operating models fail? Who do we turn to when our assumptions about our business fail? What do we need our people to do in an increasingly uncertain environment? What do we need them to do to find opportunities from this crisis?

Consider the above questions. For example, once-a-year planning is gone forever. All our assumptions about where and how work gets done have been shattered. Our understanding of what customers want or are willing to accept has changed.

Experience and intelligence have proven insufficient by themselves, if not backed by a fierce determination to succeed in adverse conditions. Almost everything leaders need their people to do has been adapted in these pressing times. 

Perhaps the most important question is how we will find opportunities that will secure survival and long-term competitive advantage. What is working during the pandemic provides clues to what leaders most need their people to do. These may sound obvious, but when done in combination they will make the difference.

Leaders need their staff to see and think differently, act with a real passion for results, and continuously refine their understanding of what and how things are changing.

Your people’s capabilities and experience will only take you so far when it comes to finding new opportunities because so much is now different. Leaders now need  people who take a different view of what is possible. They need their people to develop a mindset that does not let the current pressure and uncertainty stop them from seeing what could be.

They need people who do not let their minds turn inward and destroy collaboration, creativity and productivity. They need their people to think about the business differently. 

Now that everything has changed, there is an opportunity to creative innovative work models and to reinvent how you serve customers. This means thinking about customers differently. If your people’s mindsets are opportunity-focused, the possibilities are limitless if they look at your business through the lens of different customer expectations.

It is the people with a passion for achievement, and the willingness to change how things get done, who will create new opportunities. Leaders need people who visibly show a passion for seeing your business succeed. Passionate people can create an emotional connection that places the accomplishment of goals before themselves. It is people who have a sense of urgency that will find opportunities. This is critical in a crisis. 

Everyone, including your competitors, is looking for opportunities. Any one of them can could create the new normal for your industry. While you may not need to be first, there is no room for the slow. Passion can come from purpose. Leaders need people with a direction, and who can also keep that direction front and centre daily. These people are not afraid to say no if activities do not align with the goals.

More than ever, leaders need people who also think Outside-In to find new opportunities. People who take the time to understand what is changing and what is different. Leaders need their people to spot the important shifts customers are making and respond dynamically. People who know your customers’ circumstances, risks and opportunities. People who can proactively create change opportunities for the better and can communicate to customers why your organisation is the one to help them.

Before the pandemic, a Harvard Business School study by Ranjay Gulati found that companies genuinely embracing an outside-in perspective delivered shareholder returns of 150% while the S&P 500 share index delivered 14%. These firms developed thinking that allowed them to be resilient in both good times and bad.

Leaders need to get started now. They need to ignite their people’s passion for results. Passion speaks to their intention to perform at the highest level, to give more, contribute and succeed. When your organisation faces the toughest challenge, what kind of people do you need? 

Leaders also need to turn their people’s viewpoints outward. It is tough, but unless they do, nothing can change. They need their people to update their worldviews. Get them to look beyond what is going on in the business and find new perspectives. The ability to do this is among the most important attributes by far if you want to find new opportunities now.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at https://forms.gle/wf8upGdmwprxC6Ey9

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