An impact of the COVID-19 world has highlighted one of my career frustrations.
That is, the inclination of some executives and high level decision makers to see professional development as a low and dispensable priority for employees. When the budget gets tight, often it is the investment in employees that ceases. This is so unwise, but I’ve observed it regularly over many years working in executive roles.
Decisions to not invest in individuals at any time doesn’t make sense, but right now, it’s an opportunity lost. We are all being challenged in a world that is characterised by volatility, ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty; sometimes described as a VUCA world.
The term VUCA has been around for a while, but the concept becomes even more stark in these times when the need for innovation, creativity, imagination, inspiration and courage is needed more than ever to pivot, problem solve and convert obstacles to opportunities. Or for some, just to survive.
There is abundant research about the connection between neuroscience and neuroplasticity that points to the great capacity of our brains to develop new connections enabling humans to perform and cope optimally.
In a VUCA world developing new connections in the right brain is particularly important. Right brain leaders who are both leading self or leading others, are able to inspire and motivate. Further, they use intuition to make decisions, they can read and relate to people and they value understanding and collaboration.
Without sound right brain leadership workplaces will be characterised by silos, bullying and toxic environments, increased conflict, high levels of stress, absenteeism, presenteeism, accidents, a negative environment, stagnation, fixed mindsets, inaction, a slowness to act and a lack of direction.
As well as the “human cost” to the workplace, these behaviours can impost a significant financial drain on business resources. Dealing with a stress claim, mediating between employees engaged in silo behaviour, rehabilitating individuals affected by bullying and incivility and a lack of focus leading to productivity decrease and missed deadlines can cost thousands of dollars.
There are many decisions being made currently to “delay” or “postpone” or “cancel” development activities. This is short sighted.
I would argue this is a great time to be planning investment to build performance, innovation, collaboration, adaptability, agility, drive, communication, courage, mental readiness, curiosity and generosity.
I agree with Zig Ziglar (www.ziglar.com) when he says: You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build the business.
However, uncertain financial times for some businesses are definitely impacting – and it’s very hard to influence a potential client when they tell you their revenue has been halved.