What’s next? This is a question I have been pondering over all week. Before COVID-19, there had been many terrible things that had happened. And still, I would wake up to prepare for the future. But with the disruption of normalcy and routine in our world today, not many people are dreaming of a future. Many have stacked away future plans into files and locked them up. We forget that we can create the future, even amidst this global crisis. Our plans do not have to be exactly as we planned them at the beginning of the year. We can take into account what we can do now as a way of working our way to the bigger picture we have always dreamed. While we acknowledge our current situation, which is far from ideal, there is tomorrow to prepare for and we must start the work today.
History is proof that the world has encountered many disasters and tumultuous challenges. This crisis may not be the first we have ever encountered and for some of us, we have never seen or experienced anything this frightening. It should not matter from which generation we are coming from; the future is for us all. And despite the uncertainty we battle with daily, if we fail to prepare, we truly prepare to fail.
Despite what we may think, feel or see, our vision of better days can influence the way we address our current situation. Many economies are down, healthcare systems that were boasted of are failing, millions are being rendered jobless, racism still exists, thousands are dying every day and the list of negative things can go on and on. But with all these challenges come many opportunities we should be prepared to take. The world has witnessed several innovations spring up from this pandemic. Many things have been made possible because the urge to survive was stronger than the feeling of hopelessness in our current situation. The world as we knew it before the crisis began – the world of work – will not be the same once this is over. How are you as a manager, an employee, a global leader, an entrepreneur or even a parent preparing yourself for what is ahead?
You need to begin preparing for it now! Vision! As a future leader, you need to plan for the future you will lead. Where do your employees, suppliers or shareholders fit in your vision. How are the decisions you are making today going to impact them? If you want to create the future, you must see it and collaborate with others to bring it into fruition. Be prepared to be uncomfortable, to come out and work alongside your employees, from the grass-root person to the high-level manager. The history of inventions has shown that much iteration happened before the star product was produced. Your vision will undergo the same. Do not be afraid to let go of a method that is not working. If you can adapt, you will survive.
Think back to the 1800s, where the light bulb did not exist. Men were limited to daylight hours to be productive. According to historians, two dozen people were instrumental in inventing incandescent lamps throughout the 1800s; Thomas Edison is credited as the primary inventor because he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb like the one above, in 1879. And today, we can utilize 24 hours in a day if we choose to because working night hours was made possible several years ago.
Whether you are currently in a library, laboratory, or bathroom stall, you would not be reading this article without the invention of the personal computer. In 1977 Stephen Wozniak unveiled the Apple II, the PC that arguably paved the way to widespread personal home computer use. Apple has since become a household name, and the computer has evolved from what once took up an entire room to a device that can fit in your purse or pocket.
With every passing crisis, a new normal is created. A crisis opens our eyes to see new challenges and forces us to be uncomfortable so we can create new things, new habits and do more than we imagined was humanly possible. We have witnessed several revolutions, where a wave of change made the world a better place.
Take for instance The Industrial Revolution, marked as a period of development in the latter half of the 18th Century that transformed largely rural, agrarian societies in Europe and America into industrialized, urban ones. Goods that had once been painstakingly crafted by hand started to be produced in mass quantities by machines in factories, thanks to the introduction of new machines and techniques in textiles, iron making and other industries. From there, people realized there was much more that could be achieved. Every century has seen major revolutions and we are experiencing one now; the fourth industrial revolution. We are seeing technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things being merged with humans’ physical lives – Forbes.
While it is impossible to predict the future, it is worthwhile planning and taking actionable steps to create the future. Good preparation relies on having information to make intelligent decisions. Irrespective of whatever capacity you are positioned in your establishment or place of employment, remember that information is king. Reliable information can help you adapt to changing times so you can keep up with the pace of your industry and the market. You will also be able to account for unforeseeable developments and have mitigation plans in place for some amount of safety. Seeking information also means that you listen to your customers. Who are you serving? Who helps to bring you revenue? Listen to them and what they need in these times. Surveys can be run to find out what they might need in the future. Using such information, you can start to innovate solutions and be ahead in the game. The goal is not to win, but to stay relevant by impacting the communities and stakeholders that matter to your business.
In a thought piece by Natural HR, a discussion about how leaders can prepare for the future brings these thoughts to light: the age of Big Data is here to stay, and analytical capabilities will be a key attribute for the leaders of the future. Businesses will increasingly run on data-driven insights, and the ability to look beyond the numbers to identify trends and opportunities will be critical. Yet at the same time as delving into data, tomorrow’s leaders can’t afford to lose touch with the human side of management.
LISTEN TO LEARN:
Acknowledge the things you know about the situation. Uncertainty is one of those factors you must acknowledge. While you do this, you will be poised to listen to learn. Regularly monitoring of your activities and that of your team can help you measure your progress. Based on what you learn, adjust both your vision and your strategy. Gradually, you will be gaining clarity to shape your vision and draw up better working strategies.
Adaptability is an essential soft skill required of every leader, many of whom are challenged to exhibit and perform in this capacity on nearly a daily basis. Can same be said for your team? As the world of work changes rapidly, leaders need to help their teams adapt their own skills and mindsets to address future trends and challenges.
LinkedIn reports the below findings as the leading trends leaders need to keep in mind and gain knowledge in: artificial intelligence (59%), pace of change (36%), and customer demands and expectations (32%) were viewed as most important things to address.
Ethics and transparency also ranked highly as a trend impacting leaders, with nearly a third citing this (30%), underscoring the importance of trust and transparency in the era of digital disruption. Being emotionally intelligent (39%), and having listening and communication skills (34%) also topped the list, echoing recent research that found emotional intelligence is one of the most in-demand skills in the world.
DON’T STOP DREAMING:
Do not stop dreaming because that is the one thing that will keep you going. Having a purpose will push you out of bed and will give your life meaning. Whatever plans you are making may not be realized in the timeframe you plan for, but it will happen. When the world turns around, when there is no pandemic and the healthcare system is restored, when less to no people die daily, you will still want to have your dreams. So do not stop planning today. Write down your vision for your company. Have your teams do the same. Make it known by discussing it together. You will carry on with life a little differently; less recklessly and more hopefully because you are still vision-driven.
The future is uncertain but that does not mean we cannot contribute to it. If we want the world to be a better place, it is our responsibility to do what we can to make it so. Build yourself now for the transformation that lies ahead. It is possible!
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.