The smoke is thick and choking. You do not know the cause of the smoke but you have experienced a few sparks that give you an idea of the source and path of the fire. You know that you must lead your group through the smoke and into the clear, but there is little to give you great direction and confidence in your decisions. Every fiber of your leadership is now called upon to act. But how do you lead when navigating the unknown?
Brand change can be the result of external forces you do not control but will indeed affect you and your company. An example would be when a parent company or franchisor sells to other companies or buys other companies. In the period where the intensity of rumors are fanning the smoke in all directions, there is often nearly a void of communications from the parent or the franchisor, especially if they or the acquisition are publically traded. They cannot speak or give information, they cannot even suggest that any change is in the works. This may seem very unfair if it will impact your company, but unfortunately is the way it must be.
The worst part of the experience is the lack of information to use in making decisions and the fact that it seems like in the void of communications, time drags on with pressure, concern and anticipation. Compounding this is the abundance of rumors and people taking action on the basis of rumor which may force you to play defense. You must maintain an aura of confidence and focus on the business at hand, but at the same time consider potential strategic moves based on “if this – then that.” All the while you are probably tied up in knots thinking about the possibilities brought with each rumor.
Everyone in your company is looking to you for leadership. They are looking to you to determine what their stance and reaction should be and want a proactive path to follow with a light worthy of pursuit at the end of the tunnel. They will often replicate your actions, confidence and mood, often adopting your words as their own. At the end of the day, no matter what the franchisor does and in many cases the parent company, you still have a business to run and people to lead. The following may help you navigate the unknown by putting what you know, your talents and skills to work proactively with passion.
1. Always prioritize your actions and statements.
- a. What must I do now to make money
- b. What must I do to move my company forward
- c. What must I do to validate my leadership and be worthy of followership
2. Maintain focus on your objectives and the tasks required to meet those objectives.
3. Solidify your company’s brand, mission, vision and values.
4. Continue building, recruiting and challenging your business.
- a. Keep playing offense, it is the best strategy.
5. Drive your company with focus on the objectives that will sustain you through any change or challenge. you may meet.
6. Celebrate winning, even the small wins count big in times of change.
7. Touch and communications will help validate caring and leadership.
8. Expand your thinking to consider the opportunities and rewards change can bring.
9. Keep in mind that few will be concerned about the the smoke until you make it an issue.
10. No matter what the change is, get excited about it, own it and take every advantage possible.