It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, business owners and CEOs have had to navigate unprecedented scenarios and obstacles never accounted for in even the most thorough business plans.
The post-COVID-19 environment is a whole new ballgame in many respects, and unfortunately there’s no proven playbook for continuing to lead a winning organization. CEOs across the country are facing their own nuanced challenges that vary by industry, location, and the regulations associated with each. While some are just trying to keep their business afloat or grappling with government regulations, others are struggling to meet changing customer behaviors that may even include increased consumer demand for their product or service.
However, while the details may differ, the fundamentals of effective business leadership remain the same across industries and locations—even in this unpredictable climate. In fact, the pandemic has made some leadership mindsets more critical than ever for running successful organizations. How CEOs embrace them moving forward will make the difference between companies that fail and those that thrive.
Here are three powerful mindsets that will set successful CEOs apart in the post-COVID era.
Mindset #1: Focus on Survival
Do whatever you need to do to ensure your business survives—no regrets.
As CEO, you’ve probably had to make some tough business decisions this year, or will have to in the near future, in order to keep your business alive. Whether it’s making budget cuts, furloughing your staff, putting a new line of business on hold, or moving out of your office or warehouse space, know this: If your business has survived, you made the right call.
Whatever action is necessary to keep your business running is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family, for your employees and their families, and for the future of your organization as a whole. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t fun to make these decisions, but your company’s future success depends on its survival now, plain and simple. When business picks back up, you can rehire staff, move back into a bigger office space, or launch that new product line down the road. But if the company goes under, you’ll be completely out of options.
Shifting to a survival mindset and knowing it is still the best thing for your employees and their families will help you make the tough decisions necessary to stay in business in the short term and achieve your long-term goals.
Mindset #2: Embrace Risk
Continue to lead boldly and take the risks that spur business growth.
While we now have some idea what the post-COVID business landscape looks like, at least in terms of sectors that are crippled versus sectors experiencing growth, the future is still largely uncertain. Some business leaders may shy away from risk and try to “wait it out” until things are more stable, but successful CEOs will continue to lead fearlessly and embrace risk head-on. After all, the key to successfully growing a business is risk—or everyone would do it.
If your company is struggling because it was highly leveraged prior to the pandemic or invested in an area that’s not paying off in our new reality, don’t blame yourself or an otherwise proven decision-making process. We are continuing to experience an unprecedented global event that businesses were simply never meant to be prepared for. If companies operated in constant anticipation of these types of situations, they would never grow.
Don’t allow fear of the unknown to hold you back from making the business moves that fuel success. Maybe you need to max out your sales and marketing budget one month to achieve additional growth. Perhaps you need to finance a big project with debt and personal liability in order to make it happen. Instead of pumping the brakes on your usual vigorous leadership, look at this as an opportunity for growth. Continue taking the risks that will potentially pay off big for your business.
3. Mindset #3: Regain Confidence
Overcome imposter syndrome to lead confidently in the face of the unknown.
C-level executives, entrepreneurs, and (let’s be honest) professionals everywhere can experience imposter syndrome: that nagging feeling you’re unqualified or lack the right skills for your position, and that you’ll be found out at any moment. It’s a common mindset that can hold you back from realizing your full potential as a company leader. And if you felt this way prior to the pandemic, chances are, you might be feeling more doubtful than ever about your leadership capabilities.
As a first-time CEO myself, I’ve personally struggled with imposter syndrome. However, if this pandemic has helped me realize one thing, it’s this: Everyone feels like they are not the right person for the job at some point, no one really has all the answers, and that’s okay. By overcoming this imposter mindset, you can regain confidence in your own leadership abilities, stay focused on what’s really important for keeping your business going, and view your situation as an opportunity, not an obstacle.
The bottom line is, there is no perfect, wise CEO to lead organizations “the right way” through our current scenario. That person doesn’t exist. No one truly knows what the future holds, and you can’t be expected to anticipate every obstacle or live in fear of the unknown. The best thing you can do as a company leader right now is to adopt a survival mindset to keep your business afloat, continue embracing risk to generate new growth opportunities and remain confident in your ability to lead your company into a successful future.