“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”
It’s as though Vladimir Lenin had a crystal ball gazing into the here and now.
Creative businesses have always faced challenges from the forces of change, so I want to avoid the seemingly never-ending industry debate on how COVID-19 has changed everything. Simply stating ‘everything has changed’ really misses the point.
My view is that little, if anything, has really changed during the last few months. Change was already upon us; what’s happened is that COVID-19 has simply accelerated existing behaviours and activity.
As the founder of a business built on being agents of change, what is fascinating is the speed at which these behaviours took place. The last five months have forced companies to experiment and adapt to technology, new ways of working and collaborating at scale with new products and services. Those that have been successful, in my view, are led by people actively embracing, responding and adapting.
For those that are weathering the storm, it probably appears tempting now to try to build your company back. Don’t. Use this window of opportunity to change it.
What it boils down to is progressive leadership. Leaders who think and act differently will navigate their creative businesses to come out the other side even stronger.
Leaders who are ambitious to drive digital and cultural transformation will reinvent the game.
Leaders who drive change by focusing on game changers to create high-performing cultures, will build new capabilities, embed new behaviours and harness growth.
Leaders who value courage and boldness in people of all gender, age, orientation, race and creed, who bring diverse experiences and voices to enrich culture will create a better future for their business and their clients’ businesses.
The right leadership mindset will enable your teams to utilise their skills more quickly and effectively.
To address the forces of change, creative businesses need pioneering leaders who are unafraid to challenge the status quo, orchestrate digital and cultural transformation and drive commercial return. For instance, in the case of agencies, they have for a long time suffered a broken business model based on hours. The right leadership is needed to overhaul legacy models and replace them with diverse business models based on performance outputs and collaborative models with clients.
To help you recognise the right leadership, you are better placed looking for persona, aptitude and attitude, rather than a singular focus on capability.
Actionable visionary: Embraces the opportunity that change, and disruption bring. Characterised by boldness, driven by clarity, lives the vision, they enlighten and inspire the company to follow willingly. Personified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative for NY's 14th congressional district
Inclusive Change Agent: Collaborative and inclusive; walks the floors and understands how to deliver behavioural change against business strategy. Drives and supports the transition from end to end by bringing everyone together on the journey. Personified by Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Beautiful Business Designer: Has an artistic yet rigorous approach to embedding new capabilities aligned seamlessly to the business's growth, enabling teams to work fluidly together. Personified by Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder
Creative Commercial: Embraces new ways of operating to generate growth whether via new business models, pricing, start-up and accelerator partnerships and technology application. Personified by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla & SpaceX
Commercial Creative: Understands and champions the power of creative excellence to solve business challenges; driven by creative solutions. Left and right brained, blending art and science. Personified by James Dyson, Dyson Founder
There’s a phenomenal series running on Netflix right now called The Last Dance. It follows Michael Jordan’s playing career at the Chicago Bulls.
Now I’m not about to dispute that Jordan is the star of the show. His mindset and skills mark him out as a champion that transcends basketball. However, it is also the story of a team.
Phil Jackson, the coach, is the leader of this team. He understands the roles of each team member. He sets each of them up for success in their own way matched to their own characteristics. He ensures that the mix of talent and personalities work together to dominate the courts.
So, it’s not just about hiring game-changing leaders. It is about how you orchestrate them based on their persona and the personas of the rest of the team. By focusing on the complementary behaviours across your leadership team you can make change happen.
As we respond and adapt over the next few months and years, you will of course need specific skillsets, but more than anything, you will need the right mindsets in your leaders as the key facilitators to help you be successful and come out of this pandemic stronger.
Some people run away from change; some people run towards it. If you are thinking of building your business back. Don’t. Change it.