Tools to lead when we don’t know what’s next
I’ve always been comfortable being myself. Leadership is scary. Nobody wants to be the centre of everybody’s attention, and nobody wants to be judged. Being confident in your own skin, believing in your own skills and your vision whilst having the courage and ambition to lead when nobody else wants to is a real skill. Churchill said it best:
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities; because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
I’ll put my hand up; For the first time in my leadership life, I have questioned my vision, my decisions, my actions, and what others think of me. It is happening every day. If you let them be – these challenges are a precursor to growth. It’s a mindset and you have control over this.
What are some practical mindsets/actions you can take to lead in ambiguous times?
1. Leaders absorb fear in a crisis: Leaders don’t point fingers and they don’t point blame. They soak it all in and have a hardiness to not let that destroy them. They’re able to keep a flexible point of view and understand that both great and terrible things can happen simultaneously.
2. Don’t repetitively analyse without action: Over analysis without action will send your team bonkers. If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, it’s not going to come. Don’t try and solve every problem concurrently, rather solve the most important one with real intent.
3. Recognize who you can trust: Your trustworthy team members will use the same behaviour and language in any situation. They will have self-control to maintain their character and follow through on what they say they’ll do, even when times are tough. Trust is the backbone to any strong team right now – if there is someone you can’t trust – maybe it’s time for them to hop off the bus.
4. Ask, don’t tell: Asking in a humble way implies a desire to build trust and high-quality relationships that will lead to more open communication. It also implies that you are making yourself vulnerable and thereby awakens positive behaviours in the other person. It is about an attitude of interest and curiosity in your team – it will build greater psychological safety, and this is what everybody needs at a time like this.
During ambiguous times, it is so important to be deliberate about moments of joy and connection. Connecting with the people and passions that fulfill us are essential to our well-being. Give yourself permission to prioritize these values as much as you’d prioritize an important work commitment.
Leadership is scary when we have certainty – so what does it make it when we are facing times like now? I say petrifying. But you are courageous, and you have what it takes.