Executives must overcome fears to adapt in changing times

  • (Graphic/Patrick Lencioni)

Employee education and development has never been more important as we navigate the challenges brought on by this decade.

Not only do business managers and owners need to rework operating procedures, but new skills are also necessary to stay competitive and provide a pathway for future sustainability during such dynamic times.

Employers and employees alike are rapidly working to address a multitude of health, safety, and service challenges; businesses must embrace the ability to grow, adjust, and improve during times of uncertainty.

Not insignificant to these challenges, is the need for continued sales, marketing, and business development strategies. Cold calling has become a “new norm” as requirements for social distancing and quarantine make the old methods of visiting brick and mortar obsolete.

How does a business create new opportunities? Executives have been forced into cultivating online and over the phone relationships, processes generally reserved for the more junior staff.

Outside of learning new technical skills, multiple generations will need to continue honing in on relationship-building strategies far outside of (our) comfort zone. So, why is this such a daunting prospect? According to Patrick Lencioni in his book Getting Naked, the apprehension for executives leads to three fundamental fears:

1. Fear of losing business

2. Fear of being embarrassed

3. Fear of being inferior

To overcome these fears, our businesses will need to look inward to refine values and train our staff to not only communicate their value to potential clients but to strengthen their role within a new team dynamic as well. It all starts with focusing on your people and their strengths. Because, when you get the best out of your people, you get the best out of your business.

Don’t lose the business. Solve the problem.

Along with bringing your unique strengths and perspective, individuals can overcome the fear of losing business by recognizing how we can solve a problem for our valued customers.

Outside of our services, our clients are experiencing a unique problem specific to their industry or business. Often these are not complex issues, and can easily be solved by a trusted and objective partner. If we can develop our team to overcome inherent fears of stepping out of our comfort zone, realizing we don’t have to be experts in our field, but rather an expert in the feeding and care of our clients we will certainly prevail.

Don’t be embarrassed. Be vulnerable.

Gallup’s latest research continues to highlight the need for understanding your unique strengths, and also being able to identify those strengths and talents that do not come as naturally to you. This will help you come to terms with the fact that we have to partner with others around us and utilize the strengths of theirs that we don’t have.

With this in mind, when approaching a project or a new client, understand that mistakes in a working relationship are inevitable, and therefore by being honest, partnering with those around you, and communicating proactively, you can increase the trust and loyalty of the group. It’s not about being perfect, it is about understanding your strengths and communicating transparently through them.

Don’t make yourself feel small. Highlight your client.

Amid so many changes, when you work to solve a client or customer’s problem, take a moment to think about what it took to get them where they are.

Part of overcoming the fear of inferiority is to remember it’s not all about you. Take an interest in the business or the actions of the client/customer. Honor the work and perspective that have taken them this far.

Demonstrate this respect authentically, as it is not something easily faked. Engage authentically with those surrounding you and understand that developing means first acknowledging the need to learn, and then doing the learning.

“In times of great trouble, as the study demonstrates, using the insights that CliftonStrengths profiles offer is a best practice for creating work cultures that acknowledge and honor individual strengths. And leaders who use that knowledge can reduce stress for each individual.” How strengths, Wellbeing, and Engagement Reduce Burnout

Organizations with strengths-based cultures succeed because:

• They engage their employees. They surround employees with managers who coach them to maximize their potential.

• They provide an exceptional employee experience.

• It’s not a surprise that organizations with strengths-based cultures experience higher employee engagement, retention, productivity, and performance.

Paula Bradison is the CEO of Alaska Executive Search/Bradison Management Group.

08/12/2020 - 9:48am