“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Leaders who are good navigators are capable of taking their people just about anywhere.”
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, travelling from Southampton, England, to New York City. Nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Special,” with the claim that the Titanic was unsinkable. The ship was fittingly captained by Edward J. Smith, who was White Star Line best captain, known for his speed.
In the following inquiry, it was deemed that Smith had failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. He failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path and allowed lifeboats to leave the sinking ship partially filled, unnecessarily adding at least 500 names to the list of the dead.
Given the pandemic storm that has hit many organisations, how many CEO have felt like Captain Smith failing to heed the early warnings the pandemic might have, slowing down to take a pause to reflect and unnecessarily impacting employees. Trying to navigate the crisis has essentially meant moving from an analogue world to a digital one which has involved quickly adapting and accelerating the pace of digital transformation.
With many long-term plan and strategies being dismissed and many working on reinvention, the journey is disruptive and wearying. Especially, executives and boards had been forced to lead their organisations with great willpower and clarity, meeting customers’ and employees growing expectations.
In our latest Breakfast Briefing, Cath Purdy, Chief Executive at South Lakes Housing joined us to share her experiences of being the Captain of her ship heading into the pandemic. She shared with us how she has plotted a new course to get her and her crew to a safe port, uncovering surprising treasures along the way. She also stated given the bridge analogy that she was also guiding her association across the bridge to a new destination for her organisation.
Early in the conversation, Cath Purdy stated that sometimes “organisations don’t do enough of reflection”.
The View of the Bridge
How do you navigate turbulent waters? And, most importantly, how do you cross from one place to another while plagued by uncertainty?
Back to the heat spots of March and the beginning of the pandemic, Cath said that “fortunately, my communications colleague Emily had already persuaded me to start vlogging” communicating the difficult messages across the organisation. While reviewing these the night before the briefing, Cath said she was able to “hear in my voice the emotions that I’d forgotten about, putting me back there with all I was juggling with”.
She continued reflecting on those messages while admitting that “we’ve been through a seminal moment in our global history”. Vividly, she reckoned that we’re living a moment in time when “society shifts”.
Cath’s action timeline for South Lakes Housing services.
Crossing the bridge
“The biggest part of our digital transformation is changing the way we think.”
— Simeon Preston, FWD Insurance
Cath admitted having an epiphany early in March while shopping for groceries. She received a phone call from an alarming fellow Chief Executive that would change her perspective on the pandemic – and the massive disruption that was soon to be unleashed.
Days later, she quickly found herself gathering the team and all of the resources, passion and energy in terms of what was needed. Then, a strategic plan was made taking into consideration 3 angles:
- How to protect colleagues?
- How to ensure essential customer services continued?
- How to protect the business for the long term?
Avoiding a Shipwreck
As they continue navigating the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, many CEOs are still facing overwhelming challenges in unknown waters. Some are emerging from the pandemic stronger. These leaders are reinventing themselves and their organisations. In most cases, with digital transformation and agile operations being rapidly implemented.
But, still, the panorama remains uncertain. In this changing scenario, companies have to carefully re-consider their recovery progress and diligently seek new ways to assess and respond.
Quick responses are key to avoid disastrous outcomes. IT solutions must be implemented early in the game.
Navigating These Turbulent Times
According to Cath, “when everything is up in the air the worst that you can do is to let them land back where they were originally…You have to reframe and see the opportunity to get something better out of the situation”. She continued saying “that’s why at SLH, we’ve launched ‘LEAP Beyond’, which is our transformational program along with the support of the Golden Marzipan “.
Cath finished by saying that she sees “change as a necessity“, not as mere bravery, she capitalised. “As a society, we cannot continue as we were”, she roundly recapped.
If a silver lining is found, this should comprehend that the new rules of the game have helped us to improvise in new ways. It is imperative to understand that. We have acquired a new level of awareness of the right ways to operate today to thrive in the future of tomorrow.
The moment has come.
The moment is now.
With a new level of awareness of the right ways to make transformation happen, we’ll successfully meet on the other side of the bridge.
Do you want more?
If you are interested digital transformation and leading a successful cultural change, then check out our link below featuring “Leading Cultural Change” blog post.
If you would like to discuss any of the items raised in this blog then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org