Insights for Leaders facing the uncertainty of our current reality
There are very few organisations that have emerged from the lock-down period without some forced- flexibility being part of their current ways of working. For leaders this has been a period where leadership styles, habits and rituals have all been put under the spotlight.
Like everyone else, leaders have had to pivot their behaviours to suit the current reality. They have had to invent new ways of working for themselves and for their teams. There is a tricky balance of empathy, creativity and performance management to be found.
There is clear evidence that in many organisations what was the extraordinary is now becoming common place.
Indulge yourself for a moment. Rewind to this time last year. How many of the issues keeping you awake back then have faded, and how many new issues have arrived with gusto?
For example, this time last year the phrase ‘You are still on mute!’ was rarely uttered. Yet now it can be heard incessantly throughout the land! Granted this is not a ‘keep me awake at night’ issue. It is however an indicator of the sea-change in habits, tools, discourse and relationship building that leaders now use. This is all a long way from the informal face-to-face methods used this time last year.
Leaders Mindset Tips
One of the biggest differentiators between a leader and the rest is that they are expected to be highly resilient. They need to roll with the punches, whilst still keeping true to a clear course towards a compelling and hopeful vision of the future.
To do this well effective leaders need to be able to switch mind-sets to keep them balanced and future-focused. Some mind-sets to consider are:
- Tolerate Imperfection – accepting that with so many unknowns’ leaders have to tolerate ambiguity if they are to remain successful. The mind-set of a gambler, assessing the odds is needed as a substitute for certainties. For ‘Implementers’ used to using past experience to guide decisions and actions this is uncomfortable. For ‘Polishers’ who have a highly attuned sense of standards, gambling is a scary mind-set to consider. They know that ‘gut-instinct’ decision making, and ‘shooting from the hip’ actions, both have a patchy performance record. Yet in times of high uncertainty this mind-set can pay huge dividends, so long as it is accompanied by the following mind-set.
- Fail Forward – Taking decisions and placing bets when there is so much uncertainty requires a humble mind-set that looks after your ego. It’s OK to be wrong, no really it is! There is a good chance what you are doing, or about to do, may not work. That’s OK, so long as you are prepared to apply ‘Mea Culpa’ and learn lessons quickly. Remember, the University of Life is always open, and the fees for not attending class can be extortionately high.
- Remain Curious – I learned the power of a well framed question long ago. One that makes you, and those around you, actually think before speaking. A question where the answer is not self-evident and is open to exploration and interpretation. The need for critical thinking and high energy inquisitiveness has never been higher. The corollary is of course to assume you know what you are doing and have a good grasp of what lies ahead. If you think like this you are simply not paying attention and risk failing quickly and painfully!
- Adopt Multiple Perspectives – Now is the time to connect with people who think differently from you. Their opposing unconscious biases can give you valuable insights that enable you to re-frame the challenges you face. Complex issues tend not to reveal their root causes easily. People you consider ‘Rebel Talent’ have a role to play here, go talk to them. Their ‘Game Changer’ proclivities equip them to think differently from the norms of the people around them so their insights are worthy of genuine consideration.
- Use Collective Intelligence – It’s a mistake to believe you have the brightest people in the room. Go network and share your thoughts with other leaders you trust and respect. They will offer you their brainpower and intellectual bandwidth if asked. Why wouldn’t you tap this resource you have spent years creating, it makes no sense not to share? I started a Leadership Forum during lock-down simply to create a safe environment for leaders to virtually meet and ‘chew the cud’. They share, listen and support each other and the insights gleaned can be literally priceless.
- Communicate relentlessly – Remember as a leader, if you have no one following you, then you are simply going for a walk! Followers need to feel engaged if you are to get the best from them and they are to follow you. Do not let uncertainty freeze your communication efforts. It is OK to communicate uncertainty, so long as it accompanied by reassurance and hope. The frequency and modality of communication are also important. Short video clips and Zoom / Teams calls all have a role to play. Check out my last blog on Habits & Tips for Leaders to get some further insights.
Grab this Opportunity
Hybrid ways of working are emerging as the new normal and they may be here to stay. This creates a great opportunity to evolve your leadership mind-set and shape your organisation to ensure it emerges more resilient and agile to survive and thrive long into the future.
If you would like to know more about my virtual Leadership Forum or simply want someone to bounce your thinking off then please contact me I will be delighted to help where I can.