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“Leaders Are At a Fork in the Road”: Lead the Future with Tiffani Bova
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“Leaders Are At a Fork in the Road”: Lead the Future with Tiffani Bova




BIG IDEA:

The pandemic has created an inflection point for leaders.  

“Leaders are at a fork in the road,” Tiffani Bova, the customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce.com and the author of the book Growth IQ, told us on our Lead the Future Podcast. As the pandemic winds to a close, Bova said, “You’re either going to go back to the status quo—and why would you want to do that?—or you’re going to think about the art of the possible.” 

The pandemic has created enormous, disruptive change for everyone around the world. Now that vaccines are available, many people are hungry for a return to ‘normal.’ But as Bova points out, going back to our pre-pandemic normal might mean continuing to grow the gaps between the haves and have-nots, or returning to other bad old habits.  

Why not use this moment to rethink what’s possible instead? 

WHY IT MATTERS:

Businesses have enormous power to drive social change today. 

“Business is the greatest platform for change,” Bova told us. Corporations today have more power than ever before to shape and change the world we live in.  

With that power, of course, comes great responsibility. One of the things that drew Bova to Salesforce initially was Marc Benioff’s orientation towards seeing the company as a steward. As founder, founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, Benioff believes his company is a shareholder in the planet. And Bova, was attracted to the company’s ethic of putting purpose over profit. 

The pandemic has provided plenty of examples of the power of business to quickly adapt to and create change. For example, Bova noted that pre-pandemic, it would have been hard to imagine large pharmaceutical companies collaborating in the way they did to come up with solutions to this enormous challenge.  

“It’s been great to see companies come together for PPE equipment, for vaccinations, for daycare, or whatever it might be,” Bova said. “That sort of community spirit is just so powerful, and those brands that lean into this have fantastic growth rates.” 

THE RISK:

The old leadership playbook won’t cut it in our new hybrid world of work. 

Pre-pandemic, Bova explained, many leaders fell back on the strategy of “management by wandering around.” Obviously, simply walking around the office and checking in on a team was impossible during the pandemic.  

But it looks like post-pandemic, many organizations will be moving into a hybrid model of work, at least for a significant period, in which some employees are still working remotely, while others work from home part of the week and come into the office for key meetings. That means that leaders will continue to be challenged to come up with new ways of managing, leading, and inspiring a team.  

WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO:

Are you listening to your employees and your customers? 

“This is an opportunity for leaders to talk to individual contributors,” Bova told us. She advised leaders to ask team members what’s working well, what’s not, and what they’d like to change—and really listen to the answers. “The fastest way to get customers to love your brand is to get employees to love their job,” she noted. 

Salesforce also launched an initiative to have 1 million conversations with customers—not, Bova explained, 1 million product demos or sales calls, but 1 million conversations. “We didn’t say what do you want, because if you ask people what they want, they’d ask for faster horses.” They simply listened. 

The payoff, Bova shared, was enormous: “We found five new products that we needed to launch to get people safely back to work, we reorganized parts of the business, we rearranged the product pipeline, we opened up 4000 reps for new hires. And all of that came from a million conversations.” 

Now is not the time to simply go back to normal. Now is the time to listen carefully to what your employees and your customers are saying, and seize the opportunity to make big changes. 

Can you think big about what’s possible?

Gut Check for Leaders

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