Like millions of people up and down the East Coast of the United States, we braced for and rode through the heavy rain and high winds of Hurricane Isaias.
We were very fortunate. As we looked up and down our street after the worst of the storm had passed, we saw leaves and some branches were strewn around, but no problems otherwise. We and our family were safe; we had power and water and an intact house. For a few minutes, it looked as if the storm had not been as bad as the weather forecasters had painted it.
However, when we connected with other people in our various networks and scanned the media, we found that our initial perceptions were limited. What we learned was that there was much more to the story that we needed to consider before we drew conclusions and made decisions about venturing out and how to best help others…
Locally, there were downed trees in other parts of our town and in neighboring towns, making many roads impassable. Some buildings, houses, and cars were damaged when they were hit by falling trees and branches caused by hurricane-level wind gusts. Meetings were postponed or canceled because people could not attend due to power outages and lack of internet. In some areas, travel was so difficult that flights, trains, and buses were delayed or canceled. Almost a week after the storm, our area has still not fully recovered
Of course, the challenge of drawing conclusions and making decisions based upon first impressions doesn’t only happen with storms; it happens all the time in business. In our client work, we often find that issues appear one way from the Board, another way from the C-Suite, another way from middle management, and yet in a variety of other ways from front-line employees and other stakeholders.
In short, there’s always more to the story of any situation, and it always makes a difference in the outcome of any decision.
Going beyond first impressions and considering perspectives from a range of stakeholders when you’re making decisions about high stakes issues is the only way to find out what’s REALLY happening.
The thing is that there’s no time to establish a network in the middle of a crisis. That’s why being proactive about gathering perspectives can be a real benefit when chaos hits and time is short. We’ve found that establishing and maintaining a variety of communication channels on a regular basis puts us all in a much better position for taking relevant action when things go bad.
While the events of 2020 have taught us that we can never know exactly what is around the corner, we can always be ready to respond to crises as well as the unexpected “silver linings” that can accompany them.
One example of a CEO who shared the Silver Linings that she discovered in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis with us on Growth Igniters® Radio is Shari Spiro, Founder and CEO of Ad Magic and Breaking Games. Listen to her story here