Leadership is Calling Episode #9
Annie Hyman Pratt

Decision Making In Today’s Business Environment

“Strengthening self-leadership skills builds your capacity to thrive amid ambiguity.” – Annie

When volatility makes normal business strategies ineffective, self-leadership becomes critical. By managing your emotions and mindset, you create internal stability needed to access innovative thinking and lead teams through uncertainty.

Even the best business leaders can’t plan for everything. Tune into today’s episode of Leadership Is Calling to get Annie Hyman Pratt’s guidance around decision making in and unpredictable world!

Key Points
  • External factors like the economy and competitors create business uncertainty you can’t control.
  • When traditional strategies fail, self-leadership becomes critical to thrive.
  • Managing your emotions and mindset allows you to access innovative thinking.
  • Self-leadership gives you the resilience to guide your team through volatility.
  • Leading yourself first makes you an agile, grounded leader amid ambiguity.
Related Resources

Leadership Skills: Self-Leadership
Leadership Development Articles: Moving through Change As a TeamRecognizing When You Are in Self-Protection
Downloadable Leadership Tool: The Key Basics of Agreements

Decision making. A-Player Mart - Leading Edge Teams - Annie Hyman Pratt

Auto-Generated Transcript – unedited version

Decision Making In Today’s Business Environment


This is Leadership is Calling, a podcast that brings you leadership and business tips anchored in the people part. I’m Annie Hyman Pratt, CEO and founder of Leading Edge Teams.

So today’s, uh, business environment, oh my gosh, it has definitely taken a turn for most, most companies in that to get revenue this year, companies are finding that they have to work harder just to reach what you had last year and for most companies that’s not even possible, but they’re having to work harder, they’re having to spend more, everything is harder.

Do you guys remember when I talked about these s-curves of growth? Let me, let me just, um, write it one more time just because I think this is really, really important. This is really important for understanding business and business cycles and I’m going to talk about why it’s really important to understand it and it will help also get some resilience for when people around you are in some fear.

Okay, so, hmm, foreign revenue revenue profits we want to call it, business really kind of goes in these kinds of cycles, these s curves. Okay, of course it’s not perfect, it looks more like the A to V, right, bit crazy. Okay, but, but my point is is that in, um, in business, in industries, there is a time where the growth is expanding and accelerating, and that’s really where the inner information marketing sector, you know, online business in general, but especially information marketing, which I think of as like teaching people stuff, right, um, it has been on a huge kind of growth trajectory for the last decade really.

And, and, um, and really in the last few years, it’s kind of been slowing, then we had the pandemic that was kind of crazy in an anomaly, uh, that helped accelerate it for some, really slowed it for others, but now, now clearly because of the economy, because of the outside environment, because it’s been, you know, probably 10 years of really, really solid growth on online now we are really in, um, this part of the cycle, sure. Right, it’s slowing like this is when it’s, you know, going up pretty fast. This was me at Coffee Bean in the 90s because the market was growing so fast that I couldn’t mess up enough to kill us. Like it was the time when sales fixed everything because there was so much sales.

So this is a great time, love this time, take advantage of this time, it never goes forever, it’s just not possible for a business. So, so we’ve, we’ve hit the peak and now we’re on this slide of we are, you know, we’re on the back side, we’re on the contracting side of business. When we’re here it’s a different kind of approach to business. When we’re here we are going to do everything, we are going to do a lot of things to grow our ability to grow even more in the future. This is when we want to hire people ahead of time. This is when we want to, you know, take the risk and put in place infrastructure ahead of time. This is when we want to do, um, you know, systems and processes, a lot of them, so that we can have more time to innovate and sell more, etc.

This is a time when it’s much harder to figure out what you should invest in because this is going down. Does it make sense? So what we want to do is miss the bottom. It’s like we want to, there’s no way to avoid some of it, but what we’re hoping to do is kind of bridge over and miss this guy because this is where we go out of business. This is just too hard. So what we want to do is get to a kind of a stable part where we can stay in business. It maybe not like this business but we’re going to stay in business because what we do know, what I, you know, when I, um, uh feel I believe so strongly in because I’ve lived it now a bunch of times, um, is that as long as we stay in business, as long as we stay relatively healthy, we get to be here when this happens because only two things are going to happen: you’re either going to be here and get this or you’re going to be out of business. Or so, so, uh weak and damaged that you can’t, can’t take advantage of this when it arrives. Make sense guys? Okay, so this is what we’re going for.

Okay, so this spot right here is a win, when we can do this right here. Right, this is like a win and it doesn’t feel like it. This is where, this is where our ability to, um, gain our internal emotional control, are you know, basically where we increase our, uh, endurance on our own self-leadership to hold this place, to hold the knowing, the belief that this is going to be good for the future. Do we definitely know that? No, nobody has a crystal ball, uh, do we know for sure that this won’t happen to us? No, shit happens all the time in the, in the world, you know, we could, the whole world could fall into a massive depression and, and maybe half the businesses go out of business. I don’t know, it could happen. I haven’t seen it happen. I don’t know of a time in our history where we lost half of our businesses in our modern history, but you know, it could happen, sure. But the point is, in this kind of time where we have so much less control over our business future because of these, [music] external drivers, the external environment, this is why business is so, um, uh, difficult. This is how business actually is a bit different than sports. Sports changes but not like the business environment, right? It’s kind of like in the business environment, the, you know, the success, um, formula in yesterday may not be the success formula today because, you know, Facebook came on the scene, because Google changed their AdWords, because the pandemic happened, because, uh, consumers have less money today, they’re spending all their money at the grocery store, because the politics has, has, you know, we have a pretty skeptical divided nation that’s a bit on edge. All of that makes a difference and none of it is in our control. Does it make sense? It’s just not. And so, so the big, big shift, the giant shift here is, is this one: self leadership.

Right, and this one is teamwork space, teamwork, otherwise known as ace agreements. Okay, so all of this down here is the people part, right? People part. So this is the business part. This is where we have goals. This is where we have our, you know, cross-functional leadership team. These are the tasks down here. So when we are working on this stuff up here we are using our ability to control the most. And when I say our ability to control what I mean by that is when we’re up here, we know our goals, we look around our environment and we’re like, oh, oh today we need to plan, right? And then we need to turn this into sub plans so that our teams can actually do the task.

Okay, and we are going to do all kinds of things, to plan, to interact with our teams, to set them up for success, to interact well, and all of these things are essentially kind of under our control. We are going to control our environment, all of us are the team too, to do things. So a simple thing like, um, uh, making, you know, like posting a comment in the, in your forum or posting a little, posting a blog. There we go, hosting a blog. Okay, that means somebody had enough control of their environment to write it, had enough control over, uh, how it was going to get posted to actually post it. It’s just a simple example but it makes sense. Is where you’re doing stuff and it’s working, you’re doing stuff that’s working, it’s mostly working, maybe sometimes you do something that doesn’t really work but then you’re like, well I’ll do it differently and next time it’ll probably work. Okay?

So here’s the thing, this is the most, most, most important part that I think, um, all, all leaders hit a ceiling and that is what happens when the external environment is not good and everything you do here doesn’t really work. So let’s take a like a a Facebook ad for a minute. Okay, so there was a time like, you know, in, um, 2010, 2011, 2012, about 10 years ago when Facebook ads were like a penny something, I don’t know, we’re crazy they were in the sense. All right, and, and you could utilize it and actually find your audience pretty easily. You could, you know, get people going to a a lead page that didn’t even have to be all that good. Nobody, nobody really had decent lead pages, etc.

So, what you were working with, with the external environment, was allowing you to be really successful. Okay, now there are situations where you can’t make the Facebook ROI work. There are those situations. Can you see it? It’s like everything has changed. It’s sort of like, you know, if Facebook raises their rate so much and you have so many other costs that you have to do in inside the company too to actually deliver a product that you’re gonna sell, you actually really need, you need to hit a cost target now and if Facebook shifts in a way where they’re like, well everybody else is willing to pay a lot more than you and you’re like, well, oh no, how am I going to get traffic now because I can’t afford to lose a ton of money on every click? I’ll be out of business super fast but I don’t have the next best way to get traffic. Can you see it? And all of that can change in a way that is out of your control, that you, you have to react and respond but there’s not, you know, there wasn’t a way for the pandemic is a great example of that. There wasn’t a way to anticipate a pandemic and get ready beforehand. It wasn’t possible. It was a major, major thing out of our control.

Okay, so this is where human beings were really great, high achieving leaders hit a ceiling in their performance because sometimes you’re just like, well damn it, now what? And it may be it probably doesn’t happen overnight like I’m, you know, I’m exaggerating a bit here that like one day you just wake up and you’re like, oh my God, my business doesn’t work anymore. Okay, it’s not really that, it’s, it’s more like every day it’s a little harder, you have some wins, then you have some hard times again and it just starts to be that the level of, uh, it’s VUCA, the level of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity is so, you know, has gone up so much that your ability to make the right decisions, to take the right moves, to control your environment, to all to get on, on the same page for strategy goes down so much that it’s hard to be successful. Can you see it? And I think all of you can feel exactly these. It’s like the volatility meaning that like, you know, um, you can’t, you don’t know what Facebook ads are going to cost tomorrow. They are super volatile. They kind of move like the stock market or something, you know? I don’t know. These are just, she’s just like, well [ bleep ], I don’t know what it’s gonna be.

Um, this uncertainty of, you know, of how this economy is really going to go, the uncertainty of what are our consumers really going to do, what are they really going to think about things, how are they really going to behave? This complexity, oh my God, every one of your businesses is 10 times more complex than it was, uh, uh, seven years ago, six years ago, five years ago because five years ago most of your businesses had like one main product, didn’t have a need for a ton of, you know, didn’t have a need for this giant value ladder of you sell this and then you go to this next thing and then you go to this club and then you go to this mastermind and then you go to the super mastermind and whatnot. You did it, you, the complexity has gone up and now you need to, you know, be experts in things like Facebook. It used to be that you could put your kid on it and they could do Facebook ads, you know, your 12 year old kid.

Yeah, I’m being extreme here, right? But, you know what I mean. So in fact there was a time, right at the, uh, in the early 2000s when maybe only your 12 year old kid would even know what a Facebook ad was. All right, so, so the complexity for how business works, for how to actually make a profit has gone up big time. Big time. And this ambiguity of, um, knowing right away how… I think of this ambiguity as like is this successful or is it not? Meaning let’s say you, you get a Facebook ad out there and you know and it’s not, um, it’s the, the ROI is not like, um, uh, double. You don’t get like two dollars for every one dollar of any of the Facebook ads that you spend on. Okay, but what if you get 1.2? Is that good? Is it good enough? It wouldn’t have been two years ago but maybe that’s actually kind of good today even though we think it’s not good because it’s all like comparative. This ambiguity is like we don’t really know where we stand right now. We don’t know where the world’s going. We’re not sure how this is all going to turn out.

So because all of this is happening, this, this locus of control, I don’t know how to say it but it’s kind of like, um, control our external environment. Annie, I was thinking also with the s-curve part of this story, it’s like everything… If you’ve been in business through the upswing, right, any phase of that in the last few years even, you, you’ve, you’ve banked on certain strategies, ways of thinking and planning and expectations of, of all that’s coming next. Yes, and obviously it’s not a good time to start a business right now on these bar terms. Yes, a very hard time.

Um, but if you’ve been in business and you know that whole piece of uncertainty also comes from that moment you were talking about now what do we do now is because everything you learned from what you’ve done so far is not workable in the path you thought you were on. Right, it’s changed. Exactly right. So there’s a lot, I think that’s the tension. So I’m just thinking of Pam’s question too, right? It’s like how are the tensions building? The, you know, what you’re paying people isn’t getting them through to the next paycheck anymore. So there’s tension there. The everything that you’re doing and the expertise everybody’s developed and trusted in one another is like out the window.

Yes, and so tensions are high and obviously from the top of the triangle down really, absolutely, tensions are really high and there’s no easy answer, there’s no automatic answer. This is, you know, I, we, we want to be okay. So now, now I’m going to talk about what happens or what, what you, what you have to move to when this controlling your external environment is decreasing, it’s going down, going down, you know, kind of drastically.

Okay, then then the only thing you can actually control is what? What’s the only thing that us humans can control in that? Yeah, your internal environment. And that is basically, right, that’s basically this self-leadership.

When I work with, um, executive leaders, high level leaders, CEOs, even, it doesn’t, it’s just any human being in business who’s achieving in business. Okay, inevitably there will be a time that they will hit a ceiling where everything, all their expertise, everything they know, everything that they’ve been able to do in the past and influence people and get results isn’t working. Okay, and they’re sealing, their ability to move through that now completely relies on, hinges on this of can we keep you in a good enough self-leadership place that you can internally ride out the storm? That’s, this is like, this is like a storm now, right?

Okay, this is a storm. So it’s like can we get ourselves to a place where we can ride out the storm internally, be in a really good place internally so that, so that we can take in our environment, we can actually access the thinking part of our brain to see opportunities that you can’t see when you’re in self-protection, that you’re able to shift your focus to the kinds of collaboration, teamwork, innovative thinking, brainstorming, etc. that you can come together in everybody being in a good place to face the uncertain world and trust that a better answer is going to come forward. You don’t know that it will come forward. You don’t, but what we do know, what we totally know is that the alternative, the alternative of this is really hard and awful. And now I’m here, we know how that will turn out because if you’re in this environment and you go here, we’ve lost you. This is why businesses go out of business. This is why people have, um, you know, emotional, um, breakdowns. This is, this is, this is what burnout looks like. This is where we, we literally lose you. That we as humans, we can’t take it. We can’t take the stress. We can’t take all of this uncertainty, the complexity, the ambiguity. On a physical human level that makes sense, meaning we are wired to recognize when we’re in danger and have our emotions, you know, have our triggers, our fear triggers just kick into gear and pull us down into this hardcore. The problem is that in today’s environment that’s not how success works, business or life success really, because even when all this is happening the chance of starving tomorrow is low. Nobody’s physical life is in danger tomorrow or tonight, but our nervous system thinks so. Our nervous system is like, what do you mean I can’t get answers like, you know, what do you mean I can’t make this work? That’s sort of the equivalent to, I didn’t bring home some food today, it’s not something like that. So we get triggered and when we get triggered, we have no ability to work with, stay in our thinking brain, work with each other and access the part that actually can deal with this and can discover better, newer ways.

So the key is to build that self-leadership muscle, to strengthen our ability to self-regulate and manage our emotions and mindset. When we can do that, we create space for our team to come together, innovate and weather the storm. It’s about controlling what we can control – our inner state. And when we lead ourselves first, we become more agile, resilient leaders who can guide our teams through uncertainty. Staying grounded in self-leadership is how we’ll not just survive, but thrive in today’s business environment. It’s the people part that will get us through.

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