From Protectionism to Risk-Taking
Those first few weeks of lockdown were scary for so many reasons: we sought to protect our loved ones’ health from an invisible threat, experienced fears about job security, and for anyone running a business it was the perfect storm. Almost overnight, a large portion of the economy shut down. More than a quarter of the UK workforce was furloughed and other countries faced very similar scenarios. Those who kept working were running around trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and whether any form of ‘business as usual’ was possible.
Against this backdrop and the economic impact of lockdown we understandably witnessed, and are indeed still seeing, many organizations ‘batten down the hatches’. However, there is a huge danger in remaining in a protectionist mindset for too long. I believe a route out of the current crisis is to embrace the total disruption as an opportunity. Those who recover fastest will be those who adopt a mindset of calculated risk-taking. This is counter-intuitive because at times like this our limbic system kicks in, imploring us to avoid risk and preserve what we can. However, seizing new opportunities requires us to be creative, to utilize our whole brain and to take risks such as hiring new people and investing in new innovations. If we take the time to reflect on the lessons of history, this has often been the pattern following significant disruptions such as global conflict or economic turmoil.
- How will you identify that your organization and the wider ecosystem has reached a point where it is time to invest in innovation?
- How can you support those in your organization who are struggling to move beyond protectionism to embrace risk once more?
A Final Thought
As uncomfortable and disorientating as the past few months have been, my personal journey has been one of learning to let go and trust that the right future pattern would emerge. As someone who likes to feel in control, this has been difficult to say the least. Nevertheless, I have learned a great deal from observing nature, which embraces change and adapts in order to survive and indeed thrive.
We are living a moment of incredible opportunity. Our world faces bigger challenges than COVID-19, such as geopolitical uncertainty, climate change and loss of biodiversity. Now that many of us have been given a rare chance to stop and reflect, we can see that our modus operandi has been unsustainable and degenerative. Those who are bold enough to embrace this opportunity by adopting sustainable and regenerative leadership practices will lead our organizations, and our world, into a far better future.