What opportunities can arise from adversity?

We are living through unprecedented times. As we reorganize our lives, work dynamics, and thought processes, great opportunities will arise.

For starters, the technology we previously considered dangerous for today’s youth is now being redeemed. Today, everything happens through those devices, from learning basic skill sets to learning how to have social gatherings on-line; from reaching out and helping others to understanding what’s in the front lines of today’s fast-changing world. 

By nature, humans are not exactly lovers of change. We only appreciate tectonic shifts once they have settled and we can see tangible positive outcomes. Transitions can be painful, like the growing pains we feel in our bodies in the early years of adolescence.

What good will come out of this moment of retreat and confinement? If we’re able to enjoy the ride, and to spot opportunities during adversity, the journey will be more pleasant; more than that, we can consciously build the changes we want to see in the world.

Millennials! There has been so much discussion about how hard it can be to engage them, yet most of us from previous generations have not asked ourselves if we knew how to lead them. I see genius in this generation! Young people today have dropped much of the rococo decoration that used to distract us and drive our eyes away from what’s essential in the material world, much like removing an ornate frame that distracted from the painting itself.

Eschewing fancy packaging, Millennials prefer to pay for the best possible product, wrapped in the eco-friendliest way possible. This allows profits to be invested in quality product that does less harm to our habitat. Similarly, this health crisis is inviting us to focus on what is truly essential. And it offers many opportunities that are only starting to reveal themselves.

Developing trust

Vancouver opportunities in pandemic 2020-1
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

The opulence of old-fashioned offices, countless less-than-productive meetings, vertical hierarchies, power suits—it all seems a bit off when we are all working from home. 

The moment calls for us to recognize the essence in things, in what truly matters: our teams’ intellect and attitude, and our own ability to inspire, create, be flexible, and identify challenges and opportunities to cooperate on newly imagined projects. 

Command-and-control won’t cut it anymore in today’s reality, and this might be your big chance to be more innovative.Leading teams from a distance requires a great deal of trust, requiring us to delegate not only tasks, but responsibility and accountability for the results. It’s impossible to micromanage in this scenario. 

Managing time through purpose

Having a clear purpose is key. While staying in quarantine, focusing on our life’s vision can truly help us in putting our time into activities that will take us there. When coaching leaders and entrepreneurs, I often come across similar challenges: time management, delegation of tasks, open communication and the promotion of talent. These are all very much interconnected, and have everything to do with trust, engagement, and inspiration.

Some years back, the entrepreneurial world began re-examining the very idea of purpose itself. Simon Sinek contributed something profound with his TED Talk and book Start With Why. This discussion should always be in our radar, as our Why relates to our values and beliefs, and it is the anchor of decisions large and small.

If leaders can attract and hire individuals who share basic values and are inspired by the same vision and purpose, engagement begins on the highest possible level. Now it’s up to the company’s leadership to walk their talk and retain true talent. Again, there’s no point in having your manifesto or mission up in the hallway if those concepts don’t come through in the product of the whole company. Conversely, if your DNA is clearly identifiable through group attitudes and actions, you can save time and money in expressing those messages.

Purpose-based growth cycle

When companies attract teams for the wrong reasons, nothing flows. Leaders get exhausted and lose engagement with the individuals not inspired enough to be creative, and not aware of accountability or rewards for the results they get. Mistakes lower trust, micromanagement increases, and client loyalty is lost, along with revenue.

Vancouver opportunities in pandemic 2020-2
Photo by ian Schneider

When business owners can’t find time to review their hiring processes, the fallout can include endless hours trying to explain decision-making to teams, or fixing problems generated by actions that didn’t follow the culture. Leaders will be able to foster innovation and implement strategic changes much more often when purposes are clearly aligned.

Certainly, teams will make mistakes trying to get things right, but those will be likely be easy fixes and you will find an opportunity to develop them in the process. Organic, non-competitive collaboration—really allowing talent to develop and flourish—can turn the growth cycle into a well-oiled machine.

Diversity and group genius

This concept was first introduced to me by Mukara Meredith, from Matrix Works—one of my personal masters. Although I was familiar with this concept, and had felt its power, it was a leap to consciously apply it to my work, both as a leader and as a facilitator/consultant.

Diversity is more than a trendy buzzword. Having had the privilege to spend much of my life in Canada, after growing up in Brazil, has taught me more about diversity than any other experience. At Mandarina, we know that diversity is our superpower. This notion allows me to explain how magic happens every time we are able to use this superpower.

Think of your team, or any group of people you have worked with, in any context, anytime in your past. If you start thinking about each individual, they will have various ages, backgrounds, life histories, and levels of skillsets and know-how. Each individual is a collection of learning experiences throughout life. Imagine if you could combine all of these life journeys into a single container. What would you get? A super-brain? A hyper-human intelligence? This is what Mukara calls Group Genius!

Vancouver opportunities in pandemic 2020-3
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

The more diverse the group is, the more information you will find in that very same super-brain. Group Genius grows exponentially if we’re able to value each person’s views, positions, and beliefs as relevant and representing one part of a composite truth. Ultimately, what is the truth if not a mosaic of different angles and facts surrounding the same subject?

When analyzing situations, we look at available pieces of information and each colleague makes a different analysis of that data, based on their values and belief systems, based on previous life experiences. The more diverse the team is, the more interesting the subject becomes, potentially, because any single view will enrich everyone else’s, allowing multiple connections to be made. Any circumstance is like a 360° image: each point of view adds a facet to that image, so the full image can be seen.

Using diversity to solve problems

Let’s say you are experiencing a problem in your company. Each department will give you a different prospective of the problem. Operations, sales, finance present different data analysis, so you should be able to form a composite picture of what is truly happening, and its impact on the company as a whole. The same for finding solutions. Solutions drawn from all angles usually stand stronger than those taken from a single point of view.

Purpose comes back into place here as determinant of decision-making processes. As the world navigates through tough times and all countries find themselves in the same boat, it will be essential to use diversity and group genius to bounce back once we can all go out again.

Don’t try command-and-control. Just facilitate!

Here is exactly why command-and-control won’t cut it in today’s world. Content is so widely available everywhere these days, 14-year-olds know more about what inspires them than previous generations knew at 30. We need to trust that a well-selected group with a shared sense of purpose will make group genius available for leaders to co-create the best solutions.

How can we possibly think that we have control over anything in the world, when a virus arrives to show us otherwise? How can we think of solving the challenges of today, if not by leveraging world genius in co-creating solutions?

Leadership in a changing world

No leader is omniscient or omnipotent, and that’s for the best! Cooperation systems, widely studied right now, are proving the be the best path. Just as a country’s head should rely on health authorities to set the nation’s course of action, entrepreneurs must rely on the strongest experts lead discussions when expertise is needed. 

Vancouver opportunities in pandemic 2020-4
Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster

Leaders able to facilitate discussions, put egos aside, and make their genius fully available will achieve the best results in today’s world. It’s time to give the stage to whomever can best help your team in achieving goals. It’s time to step out of the inner circle and look at things from all angles. Wise leaders foment cooperation, leverage group genius, and know when to offer guidance as a catalyst to innovation and change.

My name is Cristina Cury, and I coach individuals, teams, and corporations, empowering them to achieve their biggest dreams. I believe in driving change through people and am here to support you during these challenging times. Reach out anytime!


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