Leading with an ICONIC Mindset during Uncertain Times
It’s been said that turbulent times build great leaders. In this podcast episode, John and Calvin discuss how to lead your team with an ICONIC mindset during uncertain times. They’ll share several important leadership qualities that will help leaders navigate through the next normal while connecting each quality to one (or more) of the 4 P’s of Iconicity - Purpose, People, Passion, and Perseverance. Listen for insights on surefire ways to continue to engage, empower and inspire your team during these uncertain times and into the future.
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Don't just be, Be ICONIC!
Welcome to the iconic mindset podcast with John Avola and Calvin Stovall. This is the only place that uncovers the multiple levels of iconic businesses and brands. Every episode rebuilds the secrets behind what it takes to make your business idea or movement iconic. Now, here is John and Calvin.John Avola:
Today, we're going to discuss leading your team with an iconic mindset during uncertain times. Calvin and I are going to share some important leadership qualities that are essential and we're going to connect those qualities with the 4 P's of Iconicity to engage, empower, and inspire teams during these uncertain times.Calvin Stovall:
And for those of you that do not know, or do not recall what those 4 P's are, let me remind you what they are. The first one of course is purpose. The second is people. Third is passion. One of my favorites, and of course, perseverance is also another favorite of mine. So those are the 4 P's of iconicity.John Avola:
Thank you, Calvin. And what we'll do is tie in those leadership qualities, which with each of those 4 P's, and of course conclude our podcast with the iconic points. Calvin, I was thinking as we were getting together for this podcast about the issues leaders were concerned with just six months ago, compared to what they're challenged with today. Think back six months, maybe seven months ago... in February or March timeframe, as a leader or a CEO of a company, you were very focused on creating a great work environment. You were trying to do whatever you can to get your employees engaged and motivated in the office, contribute and be productive as possible today that mind shift has completely switched. It's not so much about creating a positive in-person work environment, but instead has gone to creating a remote workforce and keeping them engaged. Also looking at six months ago, the focus was around investments. Where can we look at innovating or changing our product or service to better enhance the customer experience with our current assets today? The focus has now gone from investments to cashflow management. And then look at the politics and competitive pressures six months ago, where today a lot of brands have decided to really focus internally on re-imagining their brand positioning for that uncertain future.Calvin Stovall:
I always tell people, COVID has brought a lot of negative things, but it has also brought a lot of positives. As we always say, when people get comfortable or complacent, that's not what really stretches us. It's when things don't go well, that's when you have to get outside of that comfort zone and start thinking about now, what am I going to do. And not just to survive, but to thrive.John Avola:
I'd like to call this pandemic, the ultimate leadership test.Calvin Stovall:
That leads great into the first P, which is purpose. I truly believe that for your organization, your purpose shouldn't change. Stay focused on where you are and as you continue to go forward, make sure your team is rallied around that purpose and that mission. That is your rallying cry for success. If you're one of those people that have to change, changing your purpose is not the thing do.John Avola:
It's the values, the purpose and keeping employees connected to the company's mission and vision.Calvin Stovall:
If you're in leader, you want to continue to convey that purpose and make sure your people understand what you stand for as a brand and as an organization. So they can rally around that. And no matter what happens, even during uncertain times, your purpose should not waiver.John Avola:
You've got to be able to keep for moving forward with conveying that message. You've got to be able to process the information quickly, make decisions with conviction, take immediate action and adjust accordingly. There's a quote by Charles Darwin that says,"it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change." While we're talking about purpose and leadership, we should also discuss the ability to adapt your leadership style. What I mean by that is at the beginning of COVID, your leadership style may have adapted to more of a participative style where you were deferring to the experts in the field to help you through a particular situation. Now you may adapt or change your leadership style to more of a pacesetting leadership style as you come out of COVID and enter that next normal to get things moving back on track. Still align with the purpose, but adjust your style in order to accommodate what's currently going on in the environment. A good segway into people is communication. It's communicating personally, consistently, making sure your colleagues understand that you're on the ground with them. Have those meaningful conversations about the company's purpose, the values that it stands for and keep employees close to the mission and the vision.Calvin Stovall:
If you're a leader, you want to make sure you're checking in with your team and making sure that they know where you're going as an organization. This has been a challenging time for people. They're hearing about companies closing, and it creates a sense of stress for people. Anything you can do as a leader to reduce that level of stress and those questions that are probably floating around in their head is a good thing. Communication is essential. If you're a leader, communicate as much as you possibly can, even if it's not particularly the best news, people still want to know what's going on. People want to be in the know and when they don't hear it, it causes additional stress on your team. I think there's some qualities now that are strengths for leaders, when before they may not have been viewed as strengths. For example, being empathetic or being vulnerable or showing humility. Now those skills are pluses for leaders. People are dealing with situations and they're all very, very different. And you have to have an empathetic ear to be able to walk in their shoes and understand where they're coming from. People are juggling so much right now and if you're a leader and you're not understanding that people are having having to juggle different things, you're not going to be successful. Not in this environment. People want a leader that's going to listen to them and going to care about their wellbeing. That's a leader. It was John Maxwell that said,"people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."John Avola:
Our armor gets in the way of being human. Replace the armor.Calvin Stovall:
Take off the armor. In this environment, that armor is going to get in the way of your success.John Avola:
That touches on what we were just talking about regarding adapting your leadership style. In a time like this, you've got to adapt your leadership style to the environment in which we live in today, and that is an empathetic leadership style. And here's the secret, when you're listening, listen attentively. Focus on the person in front of you or in our case, on the screen that's in front of you. It's direct reflection of how much you care.Calvin Stovall:
That's a good point. I love this people P because my whole mantra is... there's no customer experience without the employee experience. I'm hoping because of this pandemic and leaders can't be face to face, they have a better, stronger, more engaged relationship with their teams. It's a different level of connection that COVID has created. Even before this pandemic, I always talk about living in a soundbite society. What I mean by that, we live in a world of chats, comments, texts, TicToks. When you did go to a restaurant pre-COVID, or BC(Before COVID), you looked around and people are on their phones. People weren't really not in conversation. So what I like about COVID now it forces you to have conversation.John Avola:
You mentioned humility too. One of the biggest mistakes I think a leader could make is to pretend you know more than you actually do. Being human or responding with humility means it's ok to say, I don't know. No one knows the answers today. Be honest and transparent in these uncertain times is key to iconic leadership.Calvin Stovall:
For those of you that don't know John Maxwell, he's a leadership guru. He has a quote about humility, which is"people with humility don't think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less." I'm ready to move on to the next one. One of my favorites, passion. It's the fire in the belly that you can't train for, I don't care how hard you try. So what are your thoughts on passion?John Avola:
I think you can have passion for different qualities. Passion for communication, passion for employees, passion for encouraging teamwork, passion for making decisions, acting quickly. I'm looking at passion as an opportunity to drive engagement and motivation. Even surveying your employees to find out how they are you feeling/doing and determining what actions can be taken to help make things better to the best of our ability. Collecting information, having passion about your employees' concerns and taking action on those concerns by doing your best to resolve their concerns. Having the passion to keep driving forward and helping your employees adapt to that next normal.Calvin Stovall:
That's a big one because if you're in a leadership role and you are in the service industry, it's challenging right now. And if you are in an environment where there are customers coming in your door, y ou cannot, not h ave p assion.John Avola:
Every experience needs to be like the first.Calvin Stovall:
You are always, and will always still be on stage. You're always still on stage. And so you have to be passionate for not only the people around you, but the people on your team. They're going to emulate and they're going to mirror what they see and I promise you if you are"whoa is me," they're going to probably feel the same way. There's no way you can ask your team to be excited and engaged and enthusiastic, if you're not doing the same. If people really are passionate, where they have the purpose, and the people have been properly trained and prepared and they are passionate, the experience is going to be there. Leadership plays such a huge role in that. There's a statistic that 70% of the brands perception is driven by its employees. It's a big deal. Everybody that you come in contact with can either make or break a relationship.John Avola:
It's the details that matter. You can have the nicest salesman in the world, but if the product or the service doesn't equate to your expectation, you're not going to purchase or recommend. And you're going to get on that social media microphone.Calvin Stovall:
You got to look at the entire customer journey from beginning to end. You cannot look at a customer's experience from only your little piece, you have to look at the whole thing. If just one person in that journey drops the ball, it's going to impact everything. I don't care what your role is... if you're in accounting, you're at the desk, your receptionist or your waiter, it doesn't matter whatever that journey is and where your piece falls, you got to make sure you own that piece of your customer experience- one hundred percent.John Avola:
An assembly line- if you're in a spot and you pull yourself out or you're dropping the item, the assembly line fails.Calvin Stovall:
I have to throw a music analogy. I look at it like this. Your role and what you do is like a single download, but the entire journey is like an album. Look at everybody's role, all those pieces together make that album. So you got to think about the whole thing, but your role is critical to that entire journey. Leaders have to understand, you got to make sure that everybody knows that their role is important and significant to the entire experience. Your customer is not going to care about this particular department or this particular area. All they're going to see is one company, one brand, one organization. And that's it. Let's bring it home... the 4th P is Perseverance. Maintain a curiosity mindset. Keep learning. You can't get complacent. You can't get too comfortable because there's always somebody out there waiting for you to drop the ball and steal your customers. So don't get comfortable. You want to be here for the long term. You have to watch the competition, but that doesn't mean you do what they do. I'm all about differentiation and trying to break out from the clutter. Make sure you know who your customers are and what their needs are, making sure that you're staying connected to how their needs and wants are evolving. And then you make pivots. Research, survey, learn what your customers are looking for. Don't waste your customer's time filling out surveys, if you're not going to do anything with the information. If you can let your customers know what you did, that that's even better.John Avola:
Listen, act and follow up. If you don't do those three things, don't survey. While we're talking about perseverance, we should also talk about the leader themselves; specifically self awareness, self care. It's an extremely stressful time. Leaders are under extreme pressure, physical and mental and their wellbeing and their health, their safety is important. Not only to themselves, but also their employees. Their employees are counting on leadership to take them forward. And as a leader, you won't be able to effectively lead if you're also struggling. When you fly on an airplane, you're instructed to put an emergency oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting others, right? Why? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can't help anybody else. As a leader, if you're gasping for air, you won't be able to effectively lead your team to the next destination.Calvin Stovall:
That's why I also think perseverance mentioned here is about the emotional intelligence. You have to know where you are because stressful situations could cause you to respond in a very different way than you normally would respond. Make sure you are thinking about things proper way, managing your relationships and all of those things. Emotional intelligence plays a big role in your success as a leader as well, particularly during stressful times.John Avola:
You may have heard of Fast Company. They have said the most essential skill leaders need to work through during uncertain times is emotional intelligence. If you were to focus all your efforts and improving one quality, Fast Company is pinpointing emotional intelligence as that quality to work on.Calvin Stovall:
That's the cool thing about emotional intelligence, you can learn it.John Avola:
When I think of emotional intelligence, I look at in four areas. The first is self awareness, which is managing your own emotions. Next is social awareness piece, which we talked about earlier, empathy. How well do you understand others and how you can affect their needs and their concerns? And that's the awareness bucket- self awareness and social awareness. And then I look at it from a management perspective. Self-management meaning controlling your impulsive feelings and behaviors, managing your emotions. And then relationship management, which is how you're developing and maintaining good relationships, inspiring others, and then managing conflict. And those four areas combined is emotional intelligence. Look at those four areas and look at the ones you excel and the ones you need to work on. Instead of looking at emotional intelligence as one area, break it down into those four areas to help you pinpoint the areas you need to focus on.Calvin Stovall:
There are EQ assessments available. For example, Talent Smart, which does a great job. If you want to find out how you a re on a particular scale around the ones you just mentioned, there's assessments that can teach you. Nobody's perfect. We all need to get better at things. If you want to have an iconic mindset and be an iconic leader, you want to continue to improve and EQ i s one of those areas where you can. That's it. Let's do something a little different. I know we have our four iconic points, but this time let's alternate. I'm going to start-#1, know your purpose and have your people rally around that purpose. That's your anchor.John Avola:
Number two, to be an iconic leader in these uncertain times, you must be transparent. You must be honest and do not be afraid to be human.Calvin Stovall:
Number three, stay focused on the behaviors that demonstrate what you want your employees to demonstrate. Walk the talk.John Avola:
And number four, perseverance. Put your oxygen mask on first!Calvin Stovall:
That wraps up our show for today, John. That's good.John Avola:
Next time we're going to talk about culture. We're going to focus on culture in the workplace, even outside of the workplace. We've been seeing some trends around cancel culture, so we'll touch on that.Calvin Stovall:
I was just going to add how fragile culture is and that you got to work on it all the time. It's something that as a leader, you have to constantly emulate those behaviors again and making sure your employees are emulating it. If you don't define the culture, your team will for you.John Avola:
If you want to learn more about us, contact us. Calvin's on a roll right now, podcasts and keynotes, he's available! He will turn your company around in a minute. You can find us at iconicpresentations.net. Until next time.. Don't just be, BE ICONIC!