In 2020, everything changed, testing the resilience of leaders and companies. The organizations that survived were the ones that could quickly pivot. But when an event like a pandemic happens, a natural immediate response can be one of disbelief and inaction.
How can you and your team move forward when everything in your business has been disrupted? Instead of feeling paralyzed and filled with excuses, resilience is finding a way over, under, around or through an obstacle. To survive, you have to redefine “possible.”
The thought of making such a significant pivot can feel daunting, especially if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. To move forward, you and your team need to adjust your mindset. When the going gets tough, I rely on a technique I created called RAFT. It’s a strategy that can help you hold tight to your vision and your goals when life throws seemingly unsurmountable obstacles in your way. It can help with adversity of all kinds — even global pandemics. Here are its four rules:
The first step is acknowledging a problem instead of ignoring it or denying that it exists. In many cases, such as with a global crisis, the problem is obvious. But sometimes, problems can lurk below the surface, such a toxic employee or a shift in customer needs. When goals and plans start to veer off track, help your team start looking for an underlying event.
While realizing there is a problem is the first step, you also have to accept it. In some cases, it can be tempting to place blame or make an excuse, especially if the problem started because of something that’s out of your control. But, as my mentor, the late chairman of Southwestern Family of Companies, Spencer Hays, always said, “It doesn’t take guts, gumption or determination to find an excuse. Anybody can locate one.” No matter what you do next, your team must accept that an event has happened and commit to taking steps to move forward.
As author and businessman Stephen Covey once said, “We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.” No matter what is happening, your team members always have control over these three things: their attitude, their schedule and their actions. They can decide to think positively. They can put boundaries around their day. And they can pick what they do next. Choice is a game-changer. Train your team to use it wisely.
An incredible transformation can happen when people embrace adversity and take responsibility for it. A negative event can stir up emotions and energy that can become like performance fuel, creating positive momentum and a powerful tool for growth. In fact, it’s when we’re being challenged that we often do our best work.
Use the adverse event to ask for team innovation. Think of disruption as a naysayer who tells you something is impossible. Then, hold brainstorming sessions to prove it wrong. This practice can result in new solutions when your team members put their heads together and push through the circumstance.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have taken away many of your standard operating procedures, but one thing it could never steal is your mindset. While it may not be at the level of a global pandemic, another challenge is bound to happen to you and your team again. Are you ready for it?
Instead of drifting with the tide, consider the RAFT technique to be your lifeboat for weathering the next storm. To drive transportation, empower your team to realize and accept an event is happening, and challenge them to become laser-focused on what they can control. Resilient teams take ownership of challenging situations and use them to redefine what’s possible, turning a negative into a positive that can take your organization to the next level.
As Tennessee Volunteers women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt once said, “Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have.”