Amid the complete global meltdown and unprecedented collective-anxiety we are now feeling, there is one truth that business leaders should consider as they face the uncertain road ahead.
It’s that cultures disintegrate fast, if macro fear is left to drive micro sentiment.
It’s an insight born out of 32 years of working with business leaders. While we crave strong leadership in the broader world, we are so often left disappointed and helpless to have any real effect on that.
Yet in our micro worlds, through the businesses we run and the families we exist to protect, we can have maximum impact.
The truth is we don’t live in the macro and when asked to think on a massive scale, we tend to become overawed and anxious. There are only so many dangers we can handle and so much scale we can comprehend at any given time.
Instead, we naturally think in ripples, from the centre of our world out. We begin with our home, then our broader family, then our workplace, then our local communities and if we have any emotional reservoir left, which is doubtful, we think and act in the broader world.
For this reason, my view is that right now, we need to think big - about acting small.
While we don’t want to ignore what’s going on in the world, we cannot let ourselves or the people we are responsible for get lost in this big picture, with very little ability to affect change.
Instead, the best thing we can do right now is ground people, with clarity about the things they can do to make a difference. In the business world, this is a time to help your people feel that what they do is meaningful, important and an effective part of something greater than themselves.
It’s the time to build our micro cultures.
This means reminding your people of the belief in why your brand matters in the world it exists – at this time and in context to the global challenges – and the vital role they play in that picture.
It also means nimbly reassessing your relevance to the changing environment – daily – and adapting your brand to win hearts through the actions you take and the leadership role your brand adopts.
In France, designer goods giant LVMH, owner of the brands Christian Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, has scaled down production on its fragrance line - and its perfume factories are now churning out bottles of anti-bacterial gel.
The hydroalcoholic gel produced in the French factories will be provided to health authorities free of charge.
This is cultural relevance, uniting their own people to a greater purpose, while serving the greater needs.
It’s about understanding what you can be, based on the brand platforms you possess, for the world you can influence.
It’s about ensuring that what you do inspires and relieves your micro world of the fear and insignificance they may be feeling.
It’s about micro brand leadership in a frightened macro world.