The Leadership Lessons here come from 3 overlapping ideas.

  1. Our Leadership Lessons’ theme is how to build stable and sustainable dealerships that adapt to accelerating change and prepare for turbulent times. January’s column centered around the idea “For stability and sustainability in your dealership, think like a pilot. How to plan for and fly to handle turbulence.”
  2. VUCA means Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It refers to the rapidly changing and unpredictable nature of the modern business environment. In other words, turbulence.
  3. Simon Sinek says “Protect People. Because in tough times, the numbers will never rush to save you.”

Build a Culture Around Community & Connection 

In his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Sinek argues great leaders and organizations start with why they do what they do, rather than what they do or how they do it. He says a focus on why creates a sense of shared purpose and inspiration that differentiates organizations and inspires people to act.

Sinek argues that starting with why allows organizations to tap into people’s emotions and inspire them to act. When people understand the purpose behind what they are doing, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged. On the other hand, organizations that focus primarily on what they do or how they do it, without clearly articulating their purpose, struggle to inspire and motivate people.

The phrase about people and numbers emphasizes the importance of putting people first, even in difficult circumstances, and highlights the idea that numbers and metrics alone won’t provide support and protection in times of need. Sinek believes focusing on people and creating a strong sense of community and connection within an organization is essential for success and resilience.

Coaching for Resiliency

In the VUCA context, organizations and their leaders must be able to navigate and respond to a wide range of challenges, including rapid technological change, shifting market conditions and complex stakeholder demands. For farm equipment dealerships, your environment may be changing:

  • Volatile not Stable
  • Uncertain not Predictable
  • Complex not Simple
  • Ambiguous not Clear

Because treating people right in a VUCA environment is vital, organizations must prioritize a culture of transparency, trust and support. This involves providing employees with clear expectations and goals, while also allowing for flexibility and autonomy in their work. Leaders must also be able to effectively communicate and collaborate with their teams, promoting a sense of shared purpose and ownership. 

Regular coaching and development opportunities help employees stay current with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Overall, treating and coaching employees with empathy, flexibility and a focus on their development and well-being will be key to maintaining a resilient and successful organization.

Lessons to Prepare

Preparing for turbulence requires a combination of proactive planning, risk management and a focus on continuous improvement and adaptation.

The specific lessons to prepare for turbulence in a VUCA environment are:

  1. Anticipate change: Regularly monitor and assess the business environment to identify potential changes and disruptions. This includes monitoring economic trends, competitors, technological advancements and government regulations.
  2. Build resilience: Develop a robust and flexible infrastructure that can quickly adapt to changing conditions. This includes having backup systems, contingency plans and a culture that promotes innovation and continuous improvement.
  3. Diversify operations: Diversify your company’s product or service offerings, customer base and geographic reach to reduce the impact of turbulence in any one area.
  4. Foster a culture of continuous learning: Encourage employees to develop new skills and knowledge and provide regular training and development opportunities to stay current with industry trends.
  5. Build strong relationships: Maintain strong relationships with suppliers, partners and customers to ensure stability and continuity of operations during times of change.
  6. Maintain financial stability: Maintain strong financial reserves and contingency funds to help weather economic turbulence and regularly assess and manage financial risk.
  7. Prepare for crisis management: Develop a crisis management plan and regularly review and update it. Ensure that your people are trained on their roles and responsibilities in a crisis.

That last lesson is really the first. With the proper leadership and people-first culture, your people will rush to save you in times of turbulence.