Leaders, Is It Time To Pivot?

Tuesday, May 4 2021

The sun is shining as you kayak down the centre of a river, flowing through beautiful countryside. The setting is idyllic until you round a bend and see a fallen tree spanning most of the river. You have a choice:

  1. Keep paddling and hope the kayak will pass over the tree, which is doubtful.
  2. You can be proactive; pivot and find an alternate way to overcome the challenge.

Pivoting means you are grounded and remain focused on the main idea while adjusting direction to achieve enhanced results. In the kayak, the need to pivot is obvious. However, that is not always true in business and it is only those leaders who know when to pivot who will achieve greater success.

If results aren’t at the desired level it is time to pivot. Consider the following:


Awareness is the first step in any change process. Leaders should be aware, not only of what’s going on in the marketplace, but also what is going on within the organization. What is the level of engagement, anxiety, enthusiasm, and loyalty of those who actually generate the results? Touch base with them, coach more, seek their opinions, involve them in decisions. Help make everyone feel they are a full member of the team. As a leader, be fully aware of the environment that has been created.


One of the biggest issues in any organization is communication. When deciding to pivot, ask open-ended, non-directive questions and listen.

If it is necessary to pivot, ensure that:

  • Clear expectations are set and agreement has been reached among internal staff
  • Commitment is verified from the team
  • Guidance and support are provided
  • Accountability is ensured (this is critical)

Follow Through

Great strategies fail most often because they were actioned without effective follow-up. Ensure the strategy is on track and be prepared to catch it the minute it veers off-track.

There is no specific time to pivot. The right time will be evident to leaders who are consistently aware of what’s happening, particularly within the organization. Leaders must tap into the strengths and energy of the team by communicating effectively, asking questions, and listening with an open mind. When the paddling is smooth, look for opportunities to enhance rather than be complacent. A timely pivot can make a huge difference to results.