. . . is before it rains.
Sure, it’s easy to put off investing in rain gear when the skies are blue, and there are so many sunny day things vying for your attention. As a leader, however, it is your job to prepare your organization, and those you lead, for every kind of weather. In the Midwest, we appreciate great weather precisely because we know it could change at a moment’s notice. Is that really so different from the current business environment?
The state I live in is six days away from a new fiscal year with no state budget in sight. That means anyone who has a contract with the state is less than a week away from not being paid. The skies are looking pretty threatening right about now, especially for those who don’t have an organizational umbrella (in the form of cash flow/reserve funds/line of credit/etc.). Sure, the rain will eventually stop — presumably at some point we will have a state budget — but there will likely be organizations who are not able to weather the storm, or whose umbrella isn’t big enough to keep them from being soaked.
Or what about the “storm” you may be faced with when a key staff member leaves the organization . . . do you have an umbrella of organizational bench strength to see you through until a replacement can be found, or a current staff member is prepared to step into the role? It’s easy to put off staff development when your lead supervisors aren’t yet approaching retirement age, and appear to be happy in their roles. After all, you have so much on your plate right now and helping employees gain leadership skills takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll have plenty of time to pick up that umbrella before you need it . . . right?!?
Granted, it may not be realistic to have an umbrella specifically designed for every type of storm, but as the leader you should have a pretty good idea of a) which storms are most likely to hit in your area, and b) what storms would have the most damaging impact on your organization. Get an umbrella for those.
Lastly, and I know this is not what you want to hear if you’re looking at storm clouds moving your way, you can’t just run down to the corner market to pick up an organizational umbrella at the last minute. (I once received a call from an executive asking for suggestions on how to diversify their funding right now . . . um, sorry, it doesn’t work that way.) Part of a leader’s responsibility is to consider the most critical “what ifs” and plan accordingly.
Once you have a few organizational umbrellas at the ready, those storm clouds aren’t quite so threatening. Sure they’re still there, but with the right rain gear you can press through the storm to the rainbow on the other side.
How’s your supply of umbrellas?