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Resilient Leadership During Uncertainty

Let’s build those resilience muscles! This episode is about how to lead with resilience during times of uncertainty.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Find pieces of gold in the present landscape “the new normal”
  • Expand your mind to expand your reach
  • Focus on the things you can change (while staying out of busy-ness)
  • Promotion in this strange, new world

Previous episodes mentioned:

Show up with Empathy & A Growth Mindset with Maria Ross

Crisis Marketing with Jeremy Miller

How to Implement Agile to Pivot Quicker with Rose Désauguste

Mark Schaefer’s book about human-to-human marketing:

Marketing Rebellion by Mark Schaefer (book)

Show Notes: Resilient Leadership During Uncertainty

[1:21] – Resilient Leadership, Expand vs Contracting and Focus on things to change

[3:14] – Human 2 Human Marketing is actually winning

[4:10] – Resilient Leaders reset on a daily basis and take care of their personal needs first

[5:27] – Be expansive in your thinking when the market is contracting

[6:12] – Resilient leaders are reflective and revise your vision to meet current demands

[7:11] – Resilient leaders gain momentum from what is right and positive happening around them

[8:07] – Focus on the back end of your business right now so it’s running smooth, then when you get back into an uptick you have an optimized

[9:08] – Get a pulse on the feelings and emotions of your actual clients, listen and reflect

[10:33] – Resilient Leaders also pivot into market conditions

[12:36] – Resilient leaders produce quickly keeping in alignment to the true North of your business

[14:05] – Resilient Leaders promote with humanity

[16:32] – As a small business, stay tuned into what it is that the humans want because your customers are all humans

[17:37] – Reach customers on a human level as they feel valued as individuals, they understand your product and how your product helps them specifically

About Host Jen McFarland

Jen McFarland Jen McFarland Consulting Third paddle

Jen McFarland, MPA, has over 25 years of training, teaching, and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. She led large-scale public sector projects affecting over 50,000 businesses, handling millions of dollars.

Today, she is the founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique firm dedicated to helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community build sustainable businesses. She’s a frequent guest speaker and trainer. You can find her online by listening to her weekly podcast, Women Conquer Business, or at jenmcfarland.com.

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resilient leadership during uncertainty jen mcfarland women conquer business

Transcript: Resilient Leadership During Uncertainty

Hello and welcome to Women Conquer Business. I’m your host Jen McFarland. On this week’s show, we talk about resilient leadership. What would your business be like if you were able to pivot your business with calm, decisive action, while holding fast to your mission, vision and goals? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about. It’s time to flex those resiliency muscles, all that, and more here on Women Conquer Business.

Hi, my name is Jen McFarland. I’m the founder of Women Conquer Business. I have over 25 years of training, teaching and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning and digital marketing. Each week on the Women Conquer Business Podcast, we teach you how to help you and your business thrive. Are you ready? Let’s go forth and conquer.

Do you know what would be really awesome? If you would subscribe to this show. So hit that pretty little subscribe button in, I don’t know, Google Podcasts or iTunes or Apple Podcasts, whatever it’s called right now. That would be super cool and totally awesome. So please take a minute, hit subscribe. Now, back to the show.

Okay. So welcome back to the show. We are going to talk about resilient leadership. We’ve talked about so many different things on this podcast revolving around COVID-19, how to pivot, market, all different types of things around your business. I just wanted to share with you what I think about resilient leadership. So we’re going to talk about a few different things today. Finding some pieces of gold in the present landscape, which is what we’re calling the new normal. How to expand your mind to expand your reach.

One of the things I’ve mentioned before is when the market contracts you want to expand. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about what exactly that means. How to focus on things that you can change while staying out of the busyness and I think that this is a little bit difficult right now. Because we want to feel like we’re moving things forward, but we’re also adjusting and navigating a lot of chaos presently with COVID-19 happening.

So we tend to do things that keep us busy that may or may not be in our best interests. So focus on the things that you can change and staying out of the busyness and then discerning what your top initiatives are. And then how do you promote in this new, strange world that we’re in?

Let’s look at the current business landscape

So let’s talk for just a minute about the current landscape. Harvard researchers are predicting that epidemic could last into 2022 requiring some social distancing through that time between 25 and 75% of that time into 2022, we could be social distancing. And then we’re also seeing obviously the rise in the contact-free economy. So it’s like distance is the new black, anything that you can do from afar without touching another person. So honoring the social distancing, that seems to be really where things are headed now, obviously because we’re forced into it.

But also people are finding gaps in the market and serving people in different ways. And so in some ways, this is probably never going to go away. We also have an increased reliance on local and regional services. So we are wanting to help businesses, small businesses like probably yours in mind. So we are relying more on what’s around us because it’s just natural if we want to help other people, then we’re going to rely more on the people around us. So that’s on the rise.

We’re also finding that human to human marketing is winning. So human to human marketing was coined by Mark Schaefer. He wrote an excellent book, actually called Human to Human Marketing and if you can pick it up, I totally recommend it. And it’s about being the most human company, optimism and courage will nurture the next normal to be better than before.

I’ve been noticing on social media a real rise in anger and fear, sadly kind of fear-mongering. So what I’m positing here is that optimism and courage will lead us into a better place than we were before.

Resilient Leadership Means Mindset First

So when we talk about resilient leaders, the first thing is all about the mindset. So resilient leaders reset their mindset on a daily basis really. So the way that you do that is you put your own oxygen mask on first.

So take care of yourself, whether it’s meditation or walking around or sitting in quiet, doing some yoga, journaling, whatever it is that you need to do to feel amazing and great and happy, do that first. Do that before you start focusing on other people take care of your needs first. So feed and water yourself, put on some clean clothes, do the laundry, some dishes, whatever it is before you focus on your business, before you focus on too many of the other distractions or even your customers take care of yourself first.

Open your heart to joy and laughter and understand that the more that we can laugh, we’re lighting up all of the different parts of our brain and we are feeling open and happy. And that’s kind of about when the market contracts you expand. So expand your focus, do what you can to think outside of what’s immediately in front of you. Take a look around and see how other people are doing it and see if you can find your little corner of doing it in the same way, but a little bit differently with your own spin on it.

Be expansive in your thinking and that kind of goes with when the market is contracting, you expand. So think bigger and it opens doors to possibilities instead of focusing on the news and ruminating on all of that stuff, day in and day out. And again, instead of sitting on social media all the time. Because everybody’s worries and fears seem to really be bubbling up and people are kind of ranting inventing a lot on social media right now.

So steer clear of that and allow your mind to expand into possibilities. And then clarify your mission and revise your vision to meet current demands. So what that means is, this is a good time to be reflective and resilient leaders are very reflective. They take a look at what’s going on and then they take a step back and they reflect on it and they’re like, “Oh, okay. I need to think about things differently.” But you’ll find that these are things you may have to do every day, maybe a couple times a day, just to remind yourself of like, “Okay, this is what I’m doing.”

And honestly, this isn’t just a COVID-19 guidance. This is very much a resilient leaders do this all the time, whether it’s good times or bad. We’re just kind of framing it around what’s going on right now, but there’s no reason why these things don’t translate into all the time. Right? And I know that it can be really hard sometimes to focus on those things, but the more that you can do that over and over again, the better positioned you are to face the day, whether it’s a phenomenal, fantastic normal day or it’s not.

So focus on your mindset. Do a reset everyday. Check in with yourself throughout the day just to see how things are going.

Resilient Leadership Means Gaining Momentum from What Is

So resilient leaders, because they are looking at what’s going on around them and seeking out possibilities, they also gain momentum from what is. Right? So they’re able to open themselves up to possibility and then they can see what the patterns are, what the trends are within their own business.

They also can see the things that are working and the things that aren’t working. So in this time, if you’re experiencing a little bit of downtime or even if you are seeing an uptick, pay attention to the things that are working, as well as the things that aren’t. Work on your processes first. Get small wins from fixing the things in your business that have always bugged you.

If you’ve always wanted that welcome series or automation series, or you don’t understand why you have to enter something in six times before it gets to the end of your chain, now’s the time to fix it. Focus on the back end of your business right now, so it’s running smooth. Then when you get back into an uptick, you’re better positioned for it. Right?

Build the foundations for online business growth. There are countless businesses that have been forced into doing things online. I think of one of my clients who runs a farm and when I met with her before the lockdown, I was like “If this business, if this website is hard for you to update, it would be a really good time for you to shift into something different.” And yesterday I saw that she had relaunched on a new platform and got her e-commerce going.

And I mean, it’s so exciting. Right? So these shifts don’t really take too long. You just have to put your mind to it and decide that you’re going to do it. And now she’s selling things. I saw things were sold out. I mean, it’s just so great to see that kind of turnaround. So building a foundation, you can actually flip it around and get it out the door quicker than you might think. Have conversations with your current or former clients. This is something that Jeremy talked about. This is something that Maria talked about, I think is something I talked about before having those guests on.

Get a pulse on the feelings and emotions of your actual clients. Don’t just take all of the trends from McKinsey and CNN and NPR and Facebook, go out there and get a pulse from the actual people that you’re serving, find out what they need and how you can help them. And then honestly, listening and reflecting and giving air to everything that’s going on before you try and “figure it out” is always good.

Now that said, we’re living in a world where you don’t have a six month launch. I mean, that’s just not reasonable or really feasible right now. What could be going on six months from now might be very different from what’s going on two weeks from now. So give it air. Don’t try to figure everything out. “Done is better than perfect” is what Maria said last week. I think that this is really a time to give some things a little bit of air before you try and figure it out.

Listen and reflect. Honestly, you can do that in the morning during your mindset reset and give some things some air and then you’ll start to figure it out, and turn it around more quickly.

Resilient Leadership Means Pivoting Into Market Conditions

So resilient leaders also pivot into market conditions. And what that means is, don’t resist what the market is giving you. If the market is saying, if your former customers and your current customers are saying, “I really want you to do this. This would help me more than anything.”

Resist the urge to be like, “No, that’s not really what I do.” Don’t resist what the market is giving you. If people are telling you how you can help and it’s a minimum viable product for you to push out, push it out, do it, turn it around quickly. Done is better than perfect and get it out. That’s what resilient leaders do. Make sure it’s still on mission, but get it out there.

Learn from the past. So the way that you’ve always done it, that’s not really going to work anymore for a lot of people. So don’t rely on it. But if there are aspects of the way you’ve always done it, the steelwork, leverage that if the data is telling you that you can continue to do that. Also analyze the data. If you’ve been tracking things like Google Analytics, metrics, KPI, if you have like key performance indicators out there, things that you have been tracking for a long time, pay attention to that.

Pay attention to what your customers are telling you, how you can help them. Look at expanding into different areas that you can learn from people and expand into areas where you can make a little bit more revenue. So take what the market is giving you and be prepared to shift quickly and fail often. If you’re pushing out products, every three or four weeks, I mean some of them are going to stick and some of them aren’t.

So what I want to encourage you to do is be ready for that. Don’t be crushed if you work on something in two weeks and it’s not exactly right. This is good information. Whatever information you’re getting is good information to help you move on to the next thing and move on to things quickly. So like I said, resilient leaders produce quickly. You don’t take your eye off of your business’s true north. You want to continue to be working within the true north of your business and take aligned action. But you also want to be able to produce quickly and fail often.

You want to be able to manage projects by breaking it up into several stages, turning things around quickly and integrating some continuous improvement. Again, this is a time for you to really look at the things that are working and the things that aren’t working, bridge the two, and be willing to be flexible and shift into what is and isn’t working. Again, resilient leaders, don’t say, “Well, it’s the way we’ve always done it. I guess we’ll wait until we can do it that way again.”

Resilient leaders, don’t say, “Well, it’s the way we’ve always done it. I guess we’ll wait until we can do it that way again.”

This is really a time for you to be flexible, make some shifts based on what the market is giving you, what your customers are telling you and what the data is telling you. And then break things up into small pieces, embrace the different methodologies that help you turn things around quicker. We’ve had guests on to talk about agile and lean.

There are all different ways, and I can help people with that too. All the different ways that you can break projects up to get through things quicker and turn things around on a dime, unless you’re a larger business, which takes a little bit more time, but you can still turn things around very quickly.

Resilient Leadership Means Promoting with Humanity

And then finally resilient leaders promote with humanity. So I don’t know if you’ve noticed, we’ve had quite a series of people on, who’ve talked about marketing. I’ll just give you my own idea around how to market right now. Promotion is part of business, but you can mark it with compassion, heart, and humanity. It’ll keep you from feeling icky. We’ve had people on who like Jeremy Miller who talked about don’t we-we all over people. That means don’t talk about we do this and we do this and I do this.

People need you and your services are important, but people need to know that you’re focusing on them and not just on yourself. And it’s really hard right now not to be a little bit myopic about what’s going on around you and thinking about yourself. Keep your eyes on the prize and remember that your services are important, even if you digitize some things and you’re doing it a little bit differently, focus on your customers, show up and keep showing up and things will begin to turn around. They just might not look the same as they did before.

Embrace video and audio. I’ve been doing a podcast for a long time. I have not been doing podcasting with video. I have now started streaming the podcast out. It’s very strange and different for me. It’s somewhat awkward for me. Sometimes I feel self-conscious and yet I’m doing it. I decided that with everything being topsy-turvy now would be a good time to test it out and see if I liked it. So I’m doing that.

I feel like I’m reaching out to a new group of people this way and it’s helping me to meet and respond to questions and concerns, and really help people. And it can work the same way for you. People like video. They like to see you and understand you a little bit more. And it helps with the concept that I mentioned at the beginning, which is human to human marketing.

Again, Mark Schaefer wrote this great book and basically he says, “The most human company wins.” And that means don’t mark it like a big, big company because they’re actually not reaching people as well as you might think. In my marketing presentations that I give throughout the state of Oregon, one of the things that I’m always talking about is the disconnect between how well marketers think that they’re doing and how well customers think the marketers are doing.

And as a small business owner, small to medium sized business owner, you’re a marketer too. So stay tuned in to what it is that the humans want because your customers are all humans. Value these one-to-one customer interactions. Think about those interactions more so than automation.

Be social on social media. So engage with people, interact with him and consider turning off some of these automations in light of everything that’s going on. One of the things that Maria Ross talked about last week is don’t be tone deaf. One of the best ways to avoid being tone deaf is to conduct yourself in human to human marketing, which is really about staying innately connected to your customers and really helping them on a one-to-one business level.

And then being able to take that and then scale that up so that you’re reaching your customers on a human level. They feel valued as individuals, they understand your product and how your product them specifically, and then you get these champions who are helping you, sell for you. People listen to things like customer testimonials as if they came from their friends. So really focused on those types of things. And you’ll find your business is changing in some ways, but not too far. You’re going to keep on that true north that you have.

Thank You For Listening

So that’s today’s episode, this is kind of the quick hits on resilient leadership. I hope this has been helpful for you. Please email me or send me your comments and questions. I would love to hear from you. And I hope that this finds you well.

Thank you for listening to the Women Conquer Business Podcast. If you’re wondering what’s next, here are a few suggestions. If you love the show, be sure to subscribe. If you want to follow me on social media, you can find Women Conquer Business on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

And finally, if the episode today brought something up for you and you need to talk, email me at hello@jenmcfarland.com. The Women Conquer Business podcast is written and produced by Jen McFarland and Foster Growth, LLC in beautiful Southeast Portland, Oregon. Thanks again for listening.

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