Cast a Leadership Shadow

Never have the phrases “cast a leadership shadow” and “capitalize on coachable moments,” been more meaningful than right now, yet they are the most difficult to execute.

Every newsfeed is filled not only with stats and figures, but, increasingly, with stories of heroic leadership and leadership lessons. For the past several weeks we have been working with corporate directors, CEOs, CHROs and senior executives as they navigate through the pandemic both personally and professionally.

Unsurprisingly, leadership, and its new hybrid – virtual leadership – has been a consistent theme in those conversations.

Unlike previous tragic events and episodic disruptions like the tech bubble, 9/11 and the financial crisis, this pandemic’s long-term implications will be sustained. Its sheer reach is, in and of itself, unprecedented – it affects everyone in an organization at every stage. Leadership in these conditions will prove enduringly characterized by complexity.

At Crenshaw we have modeled the corporate roadmap to success in this new environment into three phases. Leadership must enable the alignment of strategy, culture, and talent to drive results in each phase:

  1. “Keeping the lights on”
  2. “Stabilize and Run”
  3.  “A new growth algorithm”

Each phase will require unique skills and rigorous execution, but consistency in character and applied leadership are the hallmarks of meaningful growth. For this reason, casting a leadership shadow is more impactful than ever.

What does that mean exactly? At its core, a leadership shadow is a signal for your organization to follow. It’s what defines you as a leader and helps others to identify norms and expectations so they in turn can pass those values throughout the team.

The Chief Commercial Officer at a major firm in Dallas has always relied on physically casting her shadow by walking the floor to get a pulse on the team in real-time. Now that floor is empty, but she’s expanded her leadership calls and is maxing out Zoom to replicate that energy. It is important to both the organization and her personal brand. Going forward, in a new work environment which is still unclear, she is working through how best to touch those employees.

The CEO of a technology company has started delivering a daily message that is (very) short, to the point, and provides lighthearted insight into his own work from home life. In this way, his shadow continues to be cast through his entire organization in a very inspiring way.

Every organization has been and will continue to be impacted by new priorities and processes, but we owe it to our organizations – and ourselves – to ensure that our leadership shadow remains a familiar path to follow.