How does “new normal” impact your leadership?

The new normal is a paradigm shift. Old thoughts and beliefs are being replaced with new expectations about sustaining and growing our businesses. We may have to take new actions in order to acquire new clients and embrace new technology to meet expanding needs. We may need to refine marketing, sales, and hiring systems or give them a complete overhaul. But we will still need to measure successful operations, financial growth, and strategic planning against the company’s actual results to ensure we’re headed where we want to go. Integrity and ethics will be increasingly scrutinized by prospective customers and prospective top talent in the new normal.  Sometimes these shifts are for the better, and sometimes they are simply a passing fad.

A new executive kept telling the CEO they needed to make changes in their marketing plan and sales activities to attract larger companies. The CEO kept reminding her that “bigger clients are not always better ones, nor do they necessarily provide bigger ROIs.” The company’s strategic plan was deliberately focused on small to medium-sized clients. The new executive was unwilling to adapt and left because of poor job fit after 18 months—and the company grew and prospered because her replacement embraced the company’s strategic vision.

What is your responsibility as a leader? Stay consciously aware of shifting criteria. Some principles will start quietly until they become so loud that they demand your attention. Others are much more subtle and may only hang around until they are replaced by a newer craze or trend. Regardless, don’t follow blindly along. Take charge of defining which changes will work well for your company. Infuse as much objectivity as possible when making any modifications, and don’t forget the human factors, regardless of how small the modification. Your employees’ emotional reactions will create a smooth or difficult transition.

“The grass is greener at other companies” is a myth many job-hoppers believed when taking new positions that promise increased pay and work responsibilities. They may find that their new employer does not offer the same benefits package and other perks as their old one, or that their new bosses are not better people and project managers. Increased work responsibilities could instead simply mean working longer hours with fewer resources!

The key? Don’t become an ostrich with your head in the sand. Investigate and explore the potential impact of any new normal. Consciously choose when, where, why, and how to follow—or not! You don’t want to be left scrambling to refocus on the right things.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

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