Navigating the Extraordinary Pace of Change (feat. Warren Rustand)

Jul 10, 2023

Rapid evolution and the extraordinary pace of change is the only constant. 


The pace of change in today’s world is exponentially growing, as is its increasing complexity. 


Driving factors such as artificial intelligence, the remote and hybrid workforce, and global sustainable business practices make it imperative for leaders to adapt quickly in order to stay relevant. The most successful leaders operating in this ever-changing business landscape are not only exceptional at adaptation, but they anticipate it. 


Today on the Enlightened Executive podcast, Warren Rustand, the former CEO of Providence Service Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar social services and healthcare company, shares valuable leadership insights from his significant years of experience. With an impressive background in creating, leading, and growing a variety of successful organizations, Warren highlights the importance of learning, adapting, and staying ahead of the curve.


In this episode, Warren provides three practical strategies for how to navigate the extraordinary pace of change and the complexities of the rapidly evolving business landscape.



1. Embrace Resilience and Learn From Setbacks


Warren’s journey, from a poverty-stricken background to leading multi-million and billion-dollar enterprises, exemplifies the transformative power of mindset and opportunity. Instead of being discouraged by obstacles, he suggests key strategies for bouncing back, armed with lessons learned from challenging times. It is through these challenges that leaders develop resilience, gain valuable insights and learn how to create new possibilities.


Leaders can use these three practical steps to effectively learn from setbacks:


  • Embrace a Growth Mindset & Take Ownership: Cultivate the belief that you can develop and improve your abilities through effort, perseverance, and learning from mistakes. It’s important to take responsibility, acknowledging any mistakes or shortcomings on your part without blaming others or external circumstances. Taking ownership allows you to focus on what you can control and take proactive steps to improve.
  • Reflect on the Experience: Take time to reflect on the setback and analyze what happened. Ask yourself questions like, what patterns are emerging in these setbacks? What do I notice about my response to this experience? What does this setback reveal about the systems and individuals in place? By analyzing the situation, you gain insights into what led to the setback and how you can avoid similar situations in the future.
  • Identify Opportunities: Consider what skills, knowledge, or strategies you can develop or improve upon based on the experience. By identifying these areas, you can create a plan to address them and enhance your capabilities.


2. Grow Yourself to Grow Your Business


By continuously evolving, expanding knowledge, and challenging assumptions, leaders can elevate their thinking and lead their organizations effectively while navigating an extraordinary pace of change. Warren emphasizes the importance of leaders being proactive and staying informed about the forces shaping the world. This may look like:


  • Seeking out and intentionally surrounding yourself socially and professionally with people from various racial, socioeconomic, geographical, and gendered backgrounds. 
  • Choosing diverse sources of information (change what you read, watch and listen to frequently – don’t get stuck in a rut just because you “like” someone).
  • Engaging with experts by attending virtual or in-person workshops, seeking out mentorship opportunities, and joining professional organizations.
  • Actively participating in the broader world beyond your immediate industry through volunteer work, social and environmental causes, and online communities.


Understanding external influences such as government policies, industry competition, and technological advancements is crucial for making informed decisions and driving growth. This can be done by reading various news sources and educating yourself through online publications, literature, and podcasts. Keep an open mind and maintain the posture of a lifelong learner as you engage with new material.


And your team can benefit from this too. Executives looking to include their team on this journey can be intentional about inviting experts and thought leaders from various domains to share their insights and ideas with their team. This presents an opportunity for teams to engage in conversations that challenge existing paradigms and promote innovative thinking.


3. Prioritize Vision & Strategy


Warren suggests that leaders allocate dedicated time for deep thinking, visioning, and strategy development. Protecting this dedicated time for reflection, learning, and focusing on the bigger picture enables leaders to develop a clear vision for their business while regularly evaluating and refining it. Even though there is constant pressure to fight fires, leaders must carve out white space to elevate to the 30,000 ft view or they will be pummeled by the changes on the horizon.


Executives eager to adopt a visionary mindset can use the exercises below to meet future challenges and anticipate opportunities:


  • Review and challenge existing assumptions about your business and industry. This sets the scene for identifying opportunities for disruption and innovation.  Ask someone (or better yet, rotate the responsibility) to play devil’s advocate on your business model and value proposition on a regular basis.
  • Broaden your perspective by looking for trends and disruptions emerging outside of your industry. Assign members on your team with the role of researching emerging trends and presenting them during vision casting meetings. This external focus fosters agility and innovation within a company. 
  • Examine your company’s long-term goals with an open mind. Consider any ways you can better align your organization with the evolving external landscape.  A simple SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and Opportunities) with your team on a quarterly basis will go a long way.


By adopting these strategies, leaders can position themselves and their organizations for growth amidst uncertainty. Developing resilience, embracing a growth mindset, and maintaining an external focus will enable leaders to navigate challenges and lead their organizations toward success in the face of change.


Warren also shares…

  • How to foster a culture of growth
  • The importance of balancing internal and external focus
  • How to maximize every encounter in life


If you liked this episode, you may also benefit from hearing:

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