Economists predicted that the stock market would tank if Donald Trump were elected, as people had apocalyptic fears of what his policies might do to the world economy. The economists got it right and so very wrong at the same time. The stock market did tank as it became clear Donald Trump was the victor, and then rebounded and soared.
I don’t mean to be a validation of Donald Trump. Make your own decisions on that. Rather, people’s fears of a possible reality are often much greater then the fears they have once the same reality is upon them. People absorb new realities much faster than we often think possible, and have remarkable ability to cope and adapt. In the case of the election of Donald Trump, it took only hours for traders to digest and deal with the election results.
I bring up this recent example of human resilience and adaptability because so many CEOs of companies whom I encounter in Japan and elsewhere, when confronted by staff with apocalyptic predictions when proposing a necessary strategic change, hesitate.
“If we try to bypass our dealer network, we will lose all our customers!”
“If we drop this one product line, our customers won’t buy anything else from us ever!”
“If our sales force targets economic buyers rather than the corporate factotums tasked with collecting proposals for review, no one will do business with us again!”
Some CEOs hesitate to make the changes they recognize are needed, not so much because they buy into the fears of their staff, but rather out of concern about the staff’s ability to cope. Such concerns are often exaggerated.
It is the role of the leader to understand that, have to courage to pull the trigger, with the confidence in knowing that his or her people will be OK with the change despite what they may have said beforehand.