Change is Just Beginning: How Leaders Can Focus on Meeting 2021's Challenges

Business leaders dealt with massive and rapid change in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but many small businesses and chain stores didn’t survive.

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January 5, 2021 4 min read

This story originally appeared on ValueWalk

As a new year begins amid much economic uncertainty, companies that successfully navigated 2020’s turbulence can’t rest, and they need engaged, forward-thinking business leaders who can keep adjusting and focusing on the right factors in a volatile business environment, says Doug Meyer-Cuno, ForbesBooks author of The Recipe For Empowered Leadership: 25 Ingredients For Creating Value & Empowering Others.

“We live in a VUCA world,” says Meyer-Cuno, referring to the acronym standing for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. “We need to adjust to how fast things are changing. It means companies adjusting to AI technology, electric cars, and hub-to-hub freight liners that are driver-free. Every company needs to think out of the box.

“Leaders, therefore, need to be fast at making decisions to compete in tomorrow’s world. They’ll have to challenge themselves to look into the future and find ways for their company to not only keep pace but stay ahead of the curve.”

Meeting The Challenges Of 2021

Meyer-Cuno offers the following ways for business leaders to meet the frequent challenges of change in 2021 and beyond:

Align Change Decisions With The Company Vision

Meyer-Cuno says many entrepreneurs and CEOs forget the importance of setting a vision for their organization, and that makes decisions in the midst of massive change more difficult or less thought out. “Reaffirming the vision must be a priority every day until it becomes part of the DNA of the company culture,” Meyer-Cuno says. “Everyone in the company must ask themselves why the organization exists. They must ask themselves this question so often that the answer is ingrained in every decision they make. Once they do, it’s possible to navigate the uncertainties of change as a unified group.”

Be More Intentional With Your Vision, Mission And Core Values

Some financially successful companies lose their compass,” Meyer-Cuno says, “which shows why it’s vital for your company to be always intentional with its vision, mission and core values. They are the standard-bearers for the organization’s reputation as well as performance. The companies that will make it in the future are the ones who can push data, processes, products, and services through the pipeline the quickest. Alignment around your vision, mission, and core values are crucial in developing a company capable of great speed and agility.”

Empower Your Employees
Though it’s important for leaders to often come up with the ideas and planning to chart direction, Meyer-Cuno says the most effective leaders tap into the talented and smart people around them, pick their brains in their areas of expertise, and implement their ideas. “You must empower employees not to be yes men,” he says. “Ideally, you want a group that thinks, not groupthink. Encourage debate and participation from everyone. The really talented people out there want great leaders capable of empowering them.”

Don’t Put Up With Attitude Problems
High performers who set their own rules and don’t adhere to core values aren’t worth keeping around, Meyer-Cuno says, due to the damage they can inflict on the culture. “When you’re in a leadership position,” he says, “it’s vital to the success of your team that you live what you preach. If you don’t, nobody else will either. Demonstrate boundaries and what it means to do the right thing by showing you won’t accept noncompliance from your mavericks or high performers. Taking that action will serve to further empower your teams.”

“At this critical crossroads time for many businesses,” Meyer-Cuno says, “leaders need to reevaluate how strong or fragile their company foundation is and whether it is well- equipped to handle the battering winds of change.”

About Doug Meyer-Cuno

Doug Meyer-Cuno is an entrepreneur, mentor, and ForbesBooks author of The Recipe For Empowered Leadership: 25 Ingredients For Creating Value & Empowering Others. He founded a food ingredients distribution company, Carolina Ingredients, and expanded it into a nationally recognized and award-winning industrial seasoning manufacturer before it was acquired by Mitsubishi in 2019. Since then he has founded Empowered Leadership, which helps entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOs scale their companies by empowering their teams. Meyer-Cuno earned his BA in International Commerce from Furman University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program.

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