Resilient people easily adapt to change, while reality-deniers sink with the ship. What happened to travelers on the Titanic can happen to companies refusing to change. A unique mix of character traits creates a resilient person, one who gets through challenging times when changes are needed for survival and resources are limited.
Maggie Craddock, a veteran executive coach known for her work with Fortune 500 CEOs and senior management, a certified family therapist and the author of "Lifeboat: Navigating Unexpected Career Change and Disruption," saw similarities between those who survived life-threatening conditions when the Titanic hit the iceberg and employees and management able to survive the threat of bankruptcy and total disruption of an established company. The "Lifeboat Process" was born as she researched the qualities of people who survive crises.
Craddock wants executives and regular employees to ask eight questions to be able to operate effectively when disaster hangs overhead. The "Big Ship" (corporate mindset) that denies the manager's authentic self will stop that person's ability to successfully problem-solve.
No. 1: "Is this ship (environment) safe?" We must assess if our work environment aligns with our values. If not, the ship is not safe, and we will not be effective.
No. 2: "What do I do if I sense trouble?" Some members of Titanic's crew sensed trouble, but no one felt authorized to speak up or take action.
No. 3: "When is it time to get in the lifeboat?" When management denies the reality or tries to secretly fix the problem, it endangers everyone's future.
No. 4: "What if I freeze in a crisis?" The Big Ship mindset teaches us to ignore, minimize or suppress our feelings. But difficult emotions will erupt in a crisis, and that denial of reality will stop us from being capable of taking appropriate action. When we are forced to suppress our authentic selves, we will break down under pressure. To act successfully under pressure, we must be able to recognize, acknowledge and manage our emotions.
No. 5: "How do I find inner strength under pressure?" When business no longer works as usual, we must be able to practice emotional agility. Empowering oneself is the only way we can behave authentically, which requires going against the Big Ship mindset.
No. 6: "Who can I trust in a crisis?" We must trust ourselves first. This enables the courage we need to evaluate and solve the problem.
No. 7: "How do we survive together?" The only answer is that we must protect one another. Everyone is equal and is needed to successfully pull through.
No. 8: "What will be my story?" The Titanic passengers had no helpful information. To survive, they simply had to row in their lifeboats, just as we must in a corporate crisis. We must have faith that we are capable of determining our stories.
The questions we ask and answer will help us navigate when under pressure. The Big Ship rules demand we play our parts. No one is to question the authority, and if we express our feelings, we are censored. Craddock says, "Operating in this type of environment doesn't just impact your resume, it influences your sense of self and the priorities that shape your character."
It's no wonder studies show 85% of employees are dissatisfied in their jobs. Craddock advises us on how to know when it's time to get in the lifeboat. It's a good time to bail when 1) The Big Ship cares more about what you say than what you do, and as long as you please management, you will be accepted; 2) You must maintain a superficially polite image, being sure to not get too close to anyone; 3) You get the maximum production from your employees without considering the human cost of the results; and 4) You ignore problems, making sure that you are not blamed.
As a therapist and an executive coach, Craddock has worked with hundreds of employees who have been pushed to the limit. It's vital you value your authentic self so you don't experience the side effects of personal neglect. "People who have been operating from the Big Ship mindset deal with life from the outside in," says Craddock. To ensure your future, use Maggie Craddock's "Lifeboat: Navigating Unexpected Career Change and Disruption" as your guide before you lose your way.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see https://www.creators.com/features/at-work-lindsey-novak.
Photo credit: Antranias at Pixabay