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Disruptive or Disrupted: A Recap of Our Discussion with Charlene Li on Embracing Change

Disruptive or Disrupted: A Recap of Our Discussion with Charlene Li on Embracing Change

These days, disruption is the norm. Learning how to survive — and even thrive — in the face of disruption is essential. Here at Zoom, we want to help you learn how to embrace the change ahead.

That’s why we’re kicking off our monthly “Building Forward” webinar series, starting with “Building Leadership: Thriving in Times of Change” with Charlene Li. An expert on digital transformation, leadership, and customer experience, Li was named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company. She is the author of six books, including her New York Times bestseller, Open Leadership.

Here are some highlights from our conversation with Li on rising to today’s challenges and being disruptive, rather than disrupted. Watch the full webinar for even more insights.

Thriving in a time of disruption

Between market volatility, new technologies, and societal changes — disruption is constantly occurring. Back in 2009, for instance, companies like Uber navigated a tumultuous market and found ways to thrive in disruption.

The current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic can be treated as an obligation or an opportunity. It’s up to today’s leaders to decide how they acclimate to the new normal — which starts with embracing a strategy rooted in disruption and focused on customers. This strategy requires you to:

  • Put on disruption sunglasses: Look past your current business status and look toward future customers. 
  • Build an empathy map: Understand who your new customers are and how you can reach them.
  • Fall in love with your future customers: Do what you can to know your future customers, love them, and tailor your strategy to them.  

Leading the charge

Disruption starts with leaders who inspire and listen to employees. To create disruptive change, leaders need to generate momentum and get employees behind a movement. You’re asking people to go on a journey, so be clear about your objective.

When we polled webinar attendees about being disruptive, we found a discrepancy between individuals’ perceptions of themselves and their organization. On a scale of 1-10, people on average rated themselves 6.9 and their organization 5.1. To bridge the gap, leaders need to open a dialogue with their team about where they believe their business is on the scale and how they can get to an ideal state. 

Shifting culture to support disruption

To thrive in times of change, you must also shift your organization’s culture to support disruption. This culture should be grounded in three key principles: 

  • Maintain openness: By continuously sharing information and fostering a transparent decision-making process, leaders can create trust and accountability. 
  • Sponsor agency in every employee: Ensure every employee knows what they can and can’t do, that way they don’t need to wait to know their own power.
  • Have a bias for action: Decide what information you need to take action. Ask yourself, “In order for us to make a decision, what’s the one question we need to answer? What’s the one data point we need to inform our next steps?” You can make decisions a lot faster and learn quickly when things don’t work. 

Unearthing opportunity

Change creates opportunities for growth. By embedding disruption deeply into your strategy, leadership, and culture, your organization can grow exponentially during this time. Uncertainty can become agility, future-proofing businesses to thrive when taking on any new challenges still ahead. 

If you want to learn more about how you can successfully navigate disruptive times to foster growth, be sure to check out Charlene’s six-part workbook, designed as a companion to her book, The Disruption Mindset, and stay up to date on our Building Forward webinar series.

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