WE JUST SURVIVED the most contentious election cycle in my lifetime.

There’s a lot of people who feel injured right now.  But our strength as a country is being able to pull together for the good of the nation after each election.

What we’re seeing is directly applicable to running a company.

Because in business, traumatic and divisive events do happen:

  • A new, strong competitors arrives on the scene
  • The economy takes a nosedive and you have to lay people off
  • You get new owners
  • A devastating regulation comes into play
  • A major partner changes and no longer is well aligned
  • A key individual leaves

Each of these can be absolutely devastating in its own way.  Everyone in your organization may be questioning their job security, the company’s mission, and ultimately their personal desire to weather the impacts.

But, like this country, the impacts are often overblown.

A new competitor moves in across the street?  That doesn’t mean you’re going to lose all your business tomorrow.  Yes, you have some hard work to do, but you’re the one with the history and momentum.

One of your founders dies?  Yes, this is going to introduce a lot of grief and question marks.  But presumably your company is able to continue delivering the value it has been for so many years.

Each of these introduces major challenges, perhaps the largest you’ve ever had.  But there is a path through the disruption:

  • First, recognize the reality.  Don’t try to ignore that something major has changed.
  • Support yourself and your team through the grieving process.  The emotional journey is necessary and appropriate.
  • Take stock of what hasn’t changed.  This helps clarify where you need to focus your energy.
  • Inventory your strengths, resources and assets.  These will be the core upon which you build your new future.
  • Go back to the basics.  Ground yourself in the business purpose and values which have ultimately kept you on track.  If something fundamental has to change, be honest about it.
  • Communicate more than you think you have to.  The tendency is to keep quiet until you have it “all figured out,” but in the meantime your folks may be going nuts.  They’ll likely be projecting a future much, much worse than the reality.
  • Rebuild your new vision of the future and get to work.

I see more thoughtful people in this country now going through these steps, which gives me hope.  So as the leader of your own company or organization, learn from how this unfolds.  You’ll find it a great learning experience for the next time you have a major change.

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