2020: An Amazing Learning & Growth Opportunity
I’ve had a front row seat this year to the strangest game in town, during a time when it is very difficult to get a seat to any game. The many twists and turns of the Covid-19 global pandemic have necessitated that I learn to be flexible like never before. The same is true for every business leader I’ve worked with this year. Everyone talks at every turn about how challenging it is to be constantly adjusting and improvising on a daily, or sometimes hourly basis. Along the road this year I’ve seen that some of the leaders have embraced the new reality of 2020 with a positive mindset and an attitude of bringing their best to a challenging situation. I’ve also noticed that some have recoiled and made a challenging situation worse, by allowing their fears, insecurities, and frustrations turn into excuses and indecision at a time that calls for decisive action.
A Defiant Choice To Grow Through The Pandemic – One of my friends runs a digital marketing company in a major metropolitan market in the United States. He faced all of the same challenges everyone else did this year, and his company was no better prepared for the changes and challenges of the pandemic than any other. Despite that starting place, he has defiantly chosen to remain assertive and aggressive this year and has redoubled his efforts to market and sell his company’s products and services. The result has been an impressive growth in additional business with existing clients, impressive growth in new business from new clients, all while solidifying his company’s ability to deliver game changing service for their clients. As we near the end of this unique year, he and his team are poised to set records for revenue growth ( very strong double-digit year over year growth…), records for profitability growth, a healthy increase in the balances in his company’s checking accounts, and about a 25% increase in his company’s talented human resources year over year. When I ask him about his year, and how he feels about how his team has performed, he gets a very big smile on his face and beams with pride. For good reason, don’t you think? His secret is that he is a very mentally tough fellow with a strong thread of competitiveness that runs through the fabric of his being. He realized that 2020 was a golden opportunity to take market share away from his competitors if he kept his foot solidly on the gas while they pumped the brakes. This resilient fellow and his team are impeccably positioned for growth and success in 2021 and beyond because they have remained resilient and agile as they have worked their way through the challenges of 2020.
A Learning & Development Opportunity Like No Other – We are also fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a very rapidly growing industry leader in the cyber-security industry. I have the opportunity to speak regularly with many of the great leaders in this amazing organization, and their pluck and ability to remain focused on delivering results during a pandemic has been impressive and a strong inspiration to me and my colleagues. Almost every one of them has been challenged this year as never before. They cannot meet with their customers in person, they cannot meet with their indirect channel partners in person, they cannot travel, they cannot work in their offices due to the cruel challenges of this viral pandemic. Despite all of those significant challenges they have pivoted dozens of times throughout the year, changed how they generate demand, changed how they recruit, changed how they market and sell, and have changed significantly how they serve their channel partners and their customers. It’s been an astonishing and phenomenal year by anyone’s measure, and through it all, every member of this leadership team has stayed focused on serving their teams, being great collaborators with their teammates, and finding new and creative ways to win together. One of them said to me the other day this little gem…. “To be perfectly honest, 2020 and the pandemic have sucked, big time. Still, this has been easily the most challenging year of my career, and the most exhilarating learning and development opportunity for me and for my entire team. We have learned so much, that when this damned pandemic is finally behind us, we’re going to blow our competition away…” Wow! What a takeaway from the most challenging year in the last 50, for sure!
Confirmation That Culture Eats Everything Else For Breakfast – Several of my clients and friends who lead businesses were appropriately cautious at times early in the pandemic and took actions like changing quotas, reducing compensation, implementing cost controls, and similar strategies. Rather than doing this out of panic, they did these things, and talked about them with their teams because they wanted to increase the chances that they would weather the storm, and keep the team together and protect the culture that they had built in their businesses. I was impressed how warmly these changes were accepted by their employee’s associates. When you have built a culture of transparency and disciplined teamwork, your employees understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and they can emotionally connect to the vision and make a complete commitment to helping you drive to that revised vision. I’m happy to report that in nearly every case, as the pandemic became better understood, these companies reinstated compensation, kept their payroll headcount intact, and made extra efforts to support their employee associates through the sizable challenges of life in this pandemic (kids in the house while you’re trying to attend a zoom call, balancing work with getting the kids to do their homework, figuring out how to get Covid-19 tests in their area, and so forth…). The pandemic has provided proof to me that when you focus on creating a healthy culture in your place of business and treat your colleagues like they are the most valued asset in the organization (which they ALWAYS are…) they will reward you with outstanding work, and take very good care of your customers and your business.
I’m curious about what your observations and experiences have been during this most challenging business year of our lifetimes. Feel free to share a comment with us, and let us know if you’ve seen similar resilience, mental toughness, and ingenuity as you’ve gone through your experience over the last 11 months. I know I’m significantly better for the relentless challenges I’ve had to face this year. My game has been taken to another level, my company is experiencing a year of strong growth, thankfully. I feel very optimistic about what lies ahead when the infection rates and hospitalizations begin to recede as the vaccines begin to be distributed and administered to enough of us, so we can go back to a more connected in person world. I have tremendous faith in my fellow human beings because of the many things we’ve overcome during the last 11 months, and I’m not going to waste one minute fretting about the adversities we have endured or those that lie ahead. We’re too strong together, to be deterred. We’re all in this together, and I’m incredibly thankful for the people I mentioned above who have taught me so much about how to turn this pandemic into an amazing learning, development, and growth opportunity. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me this year, my friends!
Michael Beach and his team at Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting provide consulting and coaching services to fast-growth companies in the technology industry, all over the United States. Their forte is the work that they do helping fast growth companies to invest in developing the next generation of leadership that will fuel their growth. If you’d like more info, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.