Collaboration and Solidarity

Session Review April 2020

Hosted by Andrew Stoneham Knott, Managing Partner at Miramar, and introduced by Major General Andy Salmon, formerly Commandant General of the Royal Marines. 

Andy Salmon kindly opened the session by discussing his personal experiences of leading through a crisis. His thoughts led to an open discussion around this theme: what had the MXO members learnt so far and what has actually made a real world difference in their day to day leadership roles. We shared thoughts on what might come next and how and when to tackle a post pandemic strategy. 

With an invited membership spanning industrial, digital, science and mobility, the session was an opportunity for people within key leadership roles within the public, private and PE owned sectors to find some space to share, learn and flourish outside of their own organisation, with a like minded peer group, in a private space. 

It was clear that the opportunity to share experiences and information was hugely appreciated and provided some comfort when very difficult decisions are having to be made. The group discussed how they are approaching leadership. In particular, how to maintain purpose and energy while deactivating negative emotions and uncertainty. The spotlight was the consideration of the human aspect of business at a time that is requiring massive transformation and putting intense pressure on top line revenue. 

The focus on leadership highlighted the importance of trust in a crisis situation. To operate at the speed sometimes necessary, building trust with others is essential. When you select and maintain your specific aims, you are able to form the basis of a leadership ‘hub’. There is a lot to be learned from crisis situations, which can often throw light on the most capable while fast tracking individual growth, providing longer term insights for your leadership. 

When making rapid decisions, the availability of accurate data is essential and can provide you with a roadmap for ‘good enough’ decisions. Being able to make decisions and move towards a common goal will give you and your team a sense of purpose. Clear direction and knowledge from leaders can help to dissipate fear. The team also considered the importance of maintaining personal energy to stay in good shape to lead. The need to connect with people has never been more important and there is already evidence that the new model of remote working with greater trust delivers increased productivity. This is posing real questions about what model we might choose to return to post pandemic. 

We have seen companies demonstrating the ability to manage turnarounds and transformations in a matter of days that would typically take months or even years; how this agility is harnessed can be critical to the long term success as we come through this. Our members will look to build this agility and new, more effective ways of working into their company DNA. 

Ideas were shared to enhance communications through virtual tools with an emphasis on slowing down at the outset of the conversation to listen to where the other person is at, taking the time to understand more about the person through the window into their home and encouraging each other to manage energy and focus by sharing how you are taking breaks. 

Aligned to the points above, our final discussion with Andy focussed on how corporates can follow the military model where they better stress test their businesses for crisis situations; how can we look at our business through the lens of a crisis to assess if we are making the right decisions on people, process and investment in times of profit in preparation for times of uncertainty. 

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