How presence, flexibility and connectivity help SME CEOs to stay calm in the storm

To keep their heads above water, SME founders and CEOs today need maximum presence, flexibility and connection.

In a team of consultants, we help people working together in small and medium-sized enterprises to remain efficient despite growing challenges. One CEO recently told us: “The pandemic was pretty simple: There, we had one challenge to solve. Now there are more than 10 challenges we have in parallel on the plate.” We are inspired to help in these situations, because there is a communicative and motivating way to deal with issues like skills shortage, supply chains, cybersecurity and overload at the same time.

Let’s dive into four helpful principles to stay connected and flexible despite the bustle around us.

#1: Be aware of complexity

Zoom out and get the full picture.

Management theories used to tell us that we deal with issues of the “known unknowns” that can be analyzed, and broken down to the right answer. Yet, if we are juggling several of these challenges at the same, we need to learn to deal with the “unknown unknowns”. There is no right answer. We need to constantly conduct experiments that are safe to fail. Zooming out and looking at the whole picture will help to identify meaningful trials fast.

#2: Be present

Thinking and acting in the “now” becomes a key skill.

If we don’t know what the future holds, projections make little sense. They cost us valuable time. How can we connect with the now? The best way is to be fully aware of our individual sense of purpose, our reason for living that includes work. We found that a regular Ikigai reflection helps to be fully aware of what is needed “now”.

#3: Maximize flexibility

The stories that are already in your organization will open ways to find flexibility.

It’s pretty fascinating to see how organizations work: Historian, philosopher and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari says that every human enterprise is firmly rooted in shared stories. Identify the success stories of your organization, for example in the form of a culture cafe. These stories contain the principles how to get maximum flexibility in your organization.

#4: Be connected

As founder or CEO, always be in good exchange with your employees.

This mainly means being in listening mode. An active form of listening that leads to conversations in which new solutions come up. Seen this way, all your meetings will become more productive, a greenhouse for new ideas to better deal with complexity.

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