How to Lead in Uncertain Times
Uncertain times seem to be the new normal. How have you changed your leadership style?
Often when we feel uncertain and challenged, it is easy to default to “command and control.” Just start dishing out orders and assignments. How has that worked for you?
When I have tried “command and control,” it always backfired…sometimes sooner than later. Maybe it would be different if I was the captain of a sinking ship, but in my business the situation was never that dire.
In looking back, I now recognize that if my anxiety was high because of chaos, my people are even more anxious. The best results were when I stopped and took a breath. I hit the pause button; breathe in and out. I sat down with my people. I singled out the challenging people and the leaders; I met with them individually. I got them talking about all their concerns, worries and hopes. Then I met with the team as a group and got them talking. It was hard, but I really listened to them. We brainstormed as a group what we could control and what we couldn’t control. As a group, we created a path forward. We agreed to check in once a week to monitor progress and tweak the plan if needed. It took about 7 months, but we navigated our way out of a very tough situation.
I know it is tempting to think there is not time for all of this team involvement, all of the communication and brainstorming when you are inside the pressure cooker. But think again. This experience really changed my team. They shifted to more authentic communications with each other, increased trust and accountability. Instead of me having to create the solution, I tapped into the brain power of my whole team…. you can’t beat that. And, most important, the team had skin in the game! You can’t put a price tag on working with a very high functioning team.
This past year has reinforced how unpredictable the world can be and how interconnected everything is. It has highlighted for me that it is important to be “sharpening the saw” as often as I can because I can’t predict what it around the corner. What are you doing to keep your leadership skills sharp?