You’re the CEO of a global industrial engineering business. Your company is the leading name in the industry. 100% of your new business is generated in-person during trade shows, conferences and customer site visits.
Prior to social distancing and travel restrictions eliminating your paths to new growth, you challenged your business to achieve breakthrough sales results. You had set the tone and your team fully embraced the challenge.
Do you postpone your breakthrough goals until markets return to “normal”? It only feels logical, fair even, to lower expectations given the extreme circumstances, right?
You, like many leaders around the globe, are confronting difficult decisions on how to best orient company goals while grappling with rapidly shifting market conditions.
Even in more normal times, with all the responsibilities bestowed upon you, it’s easy to zero in on the most current, pressing needs facing the business. Today the demands on leadership have compounded – the mounting pressures to problem solve easily take control of the daily agenda.
What would you do in this CEO’s shoes?
Feeling the full weight of his responsibility, this CEO immediately modeled out how the company could stay afloat by relying completely on the existing customer base. He quickly led a reassuring conversation with his people highlighting the health of this underlying business.
His people felt at ease.
He did not.
Grated by the realization that shifting his focus to survival mode – and completely giving up the prospect of new clients – amounted to betraying his stand for the business, the CEO was compelled to examine the authenticity of his leadership.
Why was he so conflicted by easing the expectations and having successfully set a reassuring tone for his company in such dire times? Deep down he realized that in his push to solve the immediate problems in front of him, he stopped allowing himself the space to consider what was possible. He recalled a guiding principle of realizing exceptional results:
“Aiming for something reasonable will yield reasonable results. Aiming for something unimaginable will yield unimaginable results. What we aim for is our choice.”
The ability to shift from a problem-solving mindset to a what-if mindset takes great resolve in the best of times. Employing this learned skill in our current reality is remarkable.
With restored commitment, the CEO and his team dispelled long-held beliefs that “the only way to do business” was through in-person meetings. Where the team had once dismissed the possibility of digitally recreating the connectedness of face-to-face interaction, they now embraced – and rose to – the challenge by creating an immediately successful digital sales experience.
By re-centering himself and the business to his authentic intention for exceptional results, he steered the company back on track to achieve their breakthrough goals.
What is authentic for you in your leadership?