Crisis management happens on a continuum: we need to be good at managing the crisis through good hazard and risk management upfront, then during the actual crisis and also create value when coming out of it
Sanny and I were part of the same certification group for the Horse Dream horse assisted education concept. I was thrilled to discover such a powerful presence and I later on invited her to join our team in Romania.
I’ve met Luis the next year and since then I never get tired of listening to how he puts things in perspective from micro to macro, from local to global, from the business world to the horse arena.
Both their professional lives and their personal experiences recommend this team for the topic of Crisis Management so I am grateful that they agreed to this interview. Thank you both!
Madalina: What makes this leadership competency of crisis management so complex?
Sanny: First of all, it’s the fact that systematically and especially in times like the ones we are currently experiencing, the ability to manage crises is particularly challenged. When in the middle of things, we usually have energy to display the competency but not to develop it. The development must happen prior to the need .
Secondly, crisis management happens on a continuum: we need to be good at managing the crisis through good hazard and risk management upfront, then during the actual crisis and also create value when coming out of it.
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When given the opportunity, a core lesson a horse will offer is about the role of silence in the communication process. Silence offers the space and time for the communication between us to take shape, form, morph. It allows me to listen to myself, you to listen to yourself, both to listen to each other.
In his locker room speech in “Any given Sunday” Al Pacino said it very nicely: “one half step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it.”
Apply this to the market and the innovation process. Propose something too early and it will be rejected, probably because it is not understood. Propose it too late and the need it serves will have been addressed through other means or by other players. Apply it to sales, purchasing, hiring – the right time is key, every time.
In our daily interactions we experience time’s influence on the communication process in all those moments when the words coming out of mouths are either too early in the dialogue or too late. The visual indication of this off-timing are the eyes of your conversation partner, his eyebrows, and the brief interruption in his flow of thoughts you will notice through the way his face muscles contract.
We think we are having a conversation but in fact we are having at least 3. I’m having an inner conversation, you’re having an inner conversation and between us two we’re having another outer conversation. Make no mistakes, the 3 conversations are very different.
In this already complicated context, what could a horse possibly bring as added value in our development?
When given the opportunity, a core lesson a horse will offer is about the role of silence in the communication process. Silence offers the space and time for the communication between us to take shape, form, morph. It allows me to listen to myself, you to listen to yourself, both to listen to each other. It’s like going through neutral when shifting gears. It allows choices which can take us closer to the objectives we have for that interaction. It is where added value is created.
How does the horse do all of this? Through the embedded communication system: they use primarily visual cues and behaviors (actions) to communicate instead of sound. Inside the behavior communication channel, you have both what they do and don’t do. And when charted on the axis time you have: When does the horse do? And when does the horse NOT do?
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When in need of some support for risk leadership paradigm shift, step outside the office and into the arena. You will be amazed of what the predator in you can learn from the pray inside the horse in terms of risk leadership.
In everyday life, the better you know something, the easier it is for you to identify it and manage it. The same goes for risks. The recent Deloitte 2019 risk management survey confirms it: the C-suite and Executives teams working in the risk areas are best at identifying risks. On the other side, if they are risk-owners but do not work in the risk areas, they rank risk-identification as the most time-consuming part of risk management.
It comes down to managing the unknown. It goes all the way to understanding the limits of what we can manage and what we need to factor in.
Maintaining healthy boundaries for our energy investment, and any other investment for that matter, is a key leadership competency.
In business, the most interesting examples of wasted energy are not in finance risk management, but in commercial opportunity seizing. Risk and opportunity tend to travel together, but it takes a special set of leadership skills to differentiate and act upon each one.
Next, let us get out of the office and step into the arena, with a couple of horses and discover what their take on risks is, and how they can contribute to our risk leadership development.
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