Are you clear on your Post-Pandemic Purpose?

Over the last few weeks I have spoken to many CFOs and the range of their experiences during this crisis is wide.

Some are in the arts or travel sectors, which have effectively had to close down completely for an indefinite period, and they were initially consumed with working out how a core of their staff could be supported through the Government’s Jobkeeper payments, as well as then essentially ‘standing themselves down’. They are now having to cope with the shift in their identity from CFO to un- or under-employed, and looking for new ways to make their days meaningful.

Others are continuing to work through the short-term impacts on their businesses, and one even successfully closed a capital raising at the beginning of this month!

As finance leaders they are (or were) busy assessing cashflow projections, negotiating re-financing, evaluating impairment of investments, exploring supply chain options, reassuring clients, all on top of their regular business as usual activities (where such things even exist!). As well as the task focus of all those activities they will also be required to look after their teams who are now working remotely and may feel anxious and disconnected.

“For some businesses the move to remote working has been seamless, others have found it incredibly challenging as this is unfamiliar territory.”

As finance leaders our ‘go-to’ way of operating is often getting stuck into what we can ‘do’ right now, how can we take action. Now, much as action is important, and given these uncertain times, we are going to have to take action on many things with imperfect information, it is also critical to carve out time for reflection, both as individuals and as organisations.

It seems the dust is now settling a little on the immediate panic and people are starting to find a rhythm to working from home and I believe this is now an opportunity to reflect on why your organisation really exists and how you choose to shape both your own future and the organisation’s future.

Every organisation was established to fulfil a purpose beyond making profit for shareholders – even financial services, which are often seen as the antithesis of purpose driven organisations and only concerned with their own profit making capabilities, were originally established to meet the needs of a society where capital needs to change hands in order to facilitate trade.

I believe this is the perfect time to reconnect with the purpose of the organisation, and to look beyond the shareholders to reconsider the impact we have on all our stakeholders: customers, employees, local community, suppliers and the natural environment.

When things are running smoothly it often feels like too big a risk to challenge the status quo, so what better time than now, when the status quo has been thrown out the window to create the space to ask yourself these big questions:

  • What is the purpose of our organisation?
  • What is the impact we have been having on our stakeholders?
  • What do we want to do differently moving forward?
  • What do we need to start (or stop) doing now so that our future can be different?

The pandemic will pass and it is essential that you have reflected on how you want to operate in the post-pandemic world, and have clarity on where your organisation is headed and who it serves in our community. Research has shown that employees are keen to see leadership on social issues from business leaders, and to work in organisations which act in accordance with heir values, rather than treating corporate social responsibility as a tick the box exercise, and this is what will set you up for growth with purpose and vision.

Sue Rosen is an Executive & Leadership Coach with a background as a Chartered Accountant with over 25 years in corporate and financial services managing finance functions, Sue brings a pragmatic approach coupled with a deep understanding of corporate contexts and a passion for maximising human potential to all her work. Sue is passionate about helping finance professionals to find freedom and fulfillment in their lives.

To contact Sue please email [email protected]