Roger Fairhead Certificate JMT Certified

How to make your business Pandemic Tolerant (2)

What do you need to do to make your business Pandemic Tolerant and fit for the 21st Century?

To understand what I mean by Pandemic Tolerant you may want to read my earlier blog here: How to make your business Pandemic Tolerant (1)

If your house burned down, would you re-build the same house?  

My house was built in 1906, and since then it has seen the need for supplies of gas and electricity, running water and indoor toilets, a garage and a driveway.  For example, electricity didn’t start to become commonplace in English homes until the 1930s and 1940s, when it began to be standard equipment in new house builds, and garages (or motor houses as they were first called) didn’t start to become part of the initial design for new build properties until the 1950s.

If my house burned down I would want to have it rebuilt in a similar style and layout, after all that’s why we bought the house and we like it that way.  However, we would also want to accommodate some different features to incorporate the changes in life and lifestyle that have appeared since it was originally built.  

The changes in life and lifestyle that are affecting us include the effects of this current pandemic, including the move to working from home and understanding “work-life fit” where employees are encouraged where they are able to weave personal and professional obligations together throughout the day while maintaining their wellbeing; the trends away from the daily commute to a crowded city centre offices; and the demise of city centre snacking and dining areas and high street shopping areas as we know them.  

They also include the other changes currently sweeping through society including, for example, an environmentally sustainable future, the move to renewable fuel sources for power generation and transport, equality and equal opportunity in all its forms, and overcrowded countries introducing limited food supplies.   

What’s the difference?

To apply that metaphor to your business, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that you understand the underlying purpose of your business: the Why, as Simon Sinek calls it.  Clients, Colleagues, and Customers alike are becoming increasingly intolerant of companies without a cause.  They want to know what difference you want to make, and what makes you different from other organisations.

So, you need to start by understanding and articulating the difference you want to make, and what makes you different, in terms that make a difference to your Clients, Colleagues and Customers.   This involves knowing your Vision, Mission and Values in such a way that all stakeholders in your organisation are able to understand them.  

PRIZE Winning Leadership identifies Difference Makers as those who recognise five key drivers in their quest to make a difference, and these are:

Passion: They will have a cause about which they are passionate, and this cause is the purpose for which they are in business and which provides real value.  This passion is about more than just maximising shareholder value.  

People: They will be caring and sympathetic to the circumstances of all stakeholders in the business, including their colleagues and the communities that are affected by their business as well as creating value for consumers, clients and customers.

Profit: A trading surplus or profit is necessary for any organisation to stay in business over the long term, and Difference Makers will want to review their business model in terms of the reasonable and appropriate level of surplus to be taken from their activities.

Planet: The aim to “leave it at least as tidy as they found it”, not leaving an unaccounted legacy for another generation to have to find a way to deal with and tidy up.

Philanthropy: They will want to actively promote the welfare of others, and they will demonstrate this through a concern for and engagement with human welfare and advancement initiatives, and by generously contributing to other socially valuable purposes.

What’s your Dream?  Seeing beyond the Horizon

Once that is understood, then the organisation Vision, Mission, and Values need to be articulated.  In terms of PRIZE Winning Leadership these are describing the PRIZE: “an inspiring image of the future that produces passion in people and turns ‘have-to’ into ‘want-to’”.

Vision: This is a clear and inspiring image of the destination.  It will be out of view for other people, over the horizon, so to say.  It is the leader’s job to understand and describe the difference you want to make, and to articulate the view of the world that your team and organisation are working towards.

For there to be a difference, the vision also needs to articulate why we need to leave ‘here’ and there needs to be a compelling reason to leave ‘here’ to get to ‘there’.  There is a difference between ‘here’ and ‘there’ and that’s the difference we want to make.  

A vision statement is an articulation of a view of the world that your company and your people are working towards, not what they are expected to do now.

~ Simon Sinek

A journey from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

Mission:  There are a series of missions you’ll need to take, to make the difference you want to make.  

I’d like to illustrate this with a simple example.  When my son was soon to graduate from University he wanted to explore the idea of a pursuing a Masters Degree at a London University, so we planned a trip to visit several of the London universities.  You could call this our Vision: to visit Universities in London.  To get there we could choose to travel by car or by train.  If we choose to drive then we could go via the M6 or the M1, and if we chose to travel by Train we could use the high-speed express or the slower and less costly stopping service. 

Once we had arrived we would need to find the right London Underground service (the tube) to use to get near to our destination, and then we would need to walk from the tube station to each University.  Also, we would want to have some time for some sightseeing while we were there.  These would be delivered in a series of Missions.  In this simple example, the Vision was to visit the London universities, and the first Mission was to get to London.

“Your Mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it.” 

~ from the TV Series “Mission Impossible

The Values that make the Difference

Values:  We all have values, whether we realise it or not, and every organisation has values too.  Sometimes our actual values line up with our stated values.  Of course, all values are equal, however, some values are more equal than others (apologies to George Orwell in Animal Farm), and if everything is important then nothing is important.  

We need to be able to narrow down the list of core values that we consider to underpin everything we do in an organisation, and then make sure that every person in the organisation knows what they are, from the CEO to the Janitor to the most recently appointed apprentice.  

Patrick Lencioni suggests in “The Ideal Team Player” a set of three core values, which are: “Humble, Hungry, and People Smart”, and you will probably have some others.  I suggest that you aim for around six core values, and have no fewer than three.  

These are the hallmarks of everything you do, and of everyone you employ; they should be evident in your Vision and Mission, and underpin every decision you take and every hire you make.  

In my next blog I’ll be looking at identifying the outcomes that will make your difference become a reality.


Further reading from the Kotter Report:  There may not be a return to “normal,” and the dramatic shift–not only to the economy and society but also to our understanding of what else may be possible–requires that everyone reevaluate underlying assumptions. From how to bring people together in a safe and nurturing way, to how to add value to society in this new context–leadership from never-before-seen numbers of people is needed, right now. 

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.

He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.