What Does Success Look Like Now?



Written by Kristen McAlister

Perspective is always such a fascinating concept.

To kick off our CEO peer group meeting this past week, my chair, Willie Rosoff, made a subtle and risky move. He started with a hand drawing of a small box in the middle of a piece of paper with a black dot in the middle.

My first impression – “It’s not bad enough I need to stare at one dimensional people (who at least move and crack jokes) for four hours. You now want me to stare at the equivalent of a Rorschach test??!!”

Why I ever question his methods proves how much I have to learn as a business owner.

He then went on to explain, “Bare with me on a very high EQ concept. Take a look at this picture. I want you to imagine that the dot represents COVID-19. Think about it for a moment and write down whatever comes to mind and what you see on the screen that comes to you.” He gave us one minute and then took it away.

The online “chat” conversation was quiet for a few minutes and then lit up with a range of responses from comical retorts to thoughtful insights.

Initially we all agreed on one thing – It was a dot inside of a box.

It took a bit of conversation to uncover what really was obvious, that there’s a lot of white space outside of the box.

As leaders in normal times, we are hard pressed to get through a conversation without saying, “let’s think outside the box.” During these times, it is easy for that to get lost. It has been replaced with, “let’s just survive this.” The white space is easy to miss when we are stuck inside the box (with the virus).

In his drawing, there is actually more white space than anything else. Yes, we need to acknowledge the dot. Honestly, it is not something that any business owner can ignore right now, however, even though it has forced us to make changes, it isn’t taking up the entire page.

So what do we do with the white space?

The white space represents opportunity. That opportunity can come in many forms:

  1. Expanding our product into new more viable markets
  2. Expanding our product offering to existing markets
  3. Looking to capture more customers through deeper partnerships or competitor erosion (unfortunately, this is happening right now)
  4. Leveraging our core competencies to create new product to meet the new market’s needs

Anyone who has been through business school is likely digging deep into their archives trying to remember why this sounds so familiar. It is the Ansoff Matrix for product/market expansion.

The biggest difference is that what is normally done at an industry level or over a few decades is being done in a matter of months.

In the process we are redefining a number of elements including:

  • Who our customer is
  • What product/service we are providing
  • Our value proposition
  • Our delivery model
  • And most importantly – What does success now look like to us?

As we look to redefine what success looks like to us now, it is a great time to look at what a successful team of talent now looks like as well.

What are the characteristics we need as we adjust (or pivot) our companies outside the box and explore the white space. Some top comments from experts I have heard the last couple of weeks have pointed out that soft skills will be more important than technical skills for leadership. Skills such as communication, flexibility, and agility will be relied on more heavily. What is your leadership team currently comprised of?

However you measure success at this point, it is the team you are surrounded by that will help it become a reality. Now is a good time to put aside your org chart Yes, that org chart that you just updated in January and start from scratch. First, start with identifying the key metrics you are using to define success and the goals you need to achieve to get there. Next, draw out the organizational structure you need that will best support what it will take to achieve your goals

Whether you are resetting, reforecasting, or reinvigorating your companies’ innovative genes, make sure you have the right team to create the strategy, plan it out, and execute it to achieve your new vision of success.

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Meet Our Leadership

Pamela Wasley Kristen McAlister

Pam and Kristen, co-owners of Cerius Executives, both come from running a business, not the staffing industry. They understand the challenges of growing a business and not having the right leadership team or expertise. Our client services team is comprised of current and former business owners. We have the background and expertise to listen, understand and work to successfully put together the right profile for what you need and the right executive. The executive talent world is always undergoing a never-ending evolution. Some of it is trial-and-error, and some is due to a constantly changing marketplace. We will always be working to predict what businesses will need next and how can we best help them find it.