Leading in Uncertain Times

Are you or your team experiencing all-time high levels of anxiety and stress? 

I wouldn’t be surprised.  These are unprecedented times.  

An uncertain future is a breeding ground for anxiety.  Even a well-planned vision may not be enough to quench underlying stress and insecurity. All the well-intentioned time-management strategies or tools to manage overwhelm may only be scratching the surface. 

This is a time when strong leadership is needed the most. 

Use the following steps in my 4 Cs method for leadership in uncertain times to help you navigate the current climate: 

Consistency 

A pedagogy teacher once told me that is was alright, even desirable, for students to be caught off-guard and not know what to expect.  That is not an approach I would recommend for success in education or in business.  

When people know where they stand, they have more energy to apply to work.  The insecurity of working for a wild-card or loose-canon type of manager only creates more stress.  When employees experience consistency in leadership, they don’t have to waste time wondering if they’ve unknowingly misinterpreted something.  They can focus more clearly on the task at hand. 

Be the kind of leader whose employees know where they stand and, therefore, have appropriate expectations based on the cumulative experience of working for you. 

Consistency in your actions, behaviors, and character will be a grounding factor in an ungrounded world. 

 

Communication 

Uncertainty makes for a distracted brain.  

Times of uncertainty require you to streamline communications.  

Streamline meetings by increasing planning time and double-checking the meeting personnel list to make sure no one’s time is wasted. 

Simplify correspondence.  Be clear and concise.  Over-communicate outcome expectations without micromanaging.  

Listening is the most undervalued aspect of communication today.  

Listen to what your employees are telling you.  Make them feel heard.  Consider context.  Pay attention to body language and speech patterns. 

 

Compassion 

Every point of contact needs to be tempered with compassion and understanding that everyone’s best may not be what it used to be pre-pandemic.  Outcomes may need more time and energy.  

Your human workforce is your greatest asset. 

Ask your team what they need from you right now to do their job, and then really listen to their replies. 

If you are unable to listen with compassion to the feedback you receive, practice compassion with yourself.  Do whatever healing or self-care you need to do before engaging.  Model the self-care your employees need to be practicing.  You need to lead the way. 

Connection 

Connect with your team on a personal level and genuinely care for their well-being. 

Be human. 

Long-term goals or visions may be difficult to realize in uncertain times.  Explore how to relate that vision in shorter terms, be it in chunks of achievement or in a series of smaller timelines.  

Help your team connect the big picture to the smaller building blocks to decrease overwhelm. 

We’re all in this together.  The pandemic and remote working may create a sense of isolation.  It’s your job to create a feeling of connection.  If you’re at a loss for how to go about doing this, ask your team what they need to feel connected. 

And then really listen to what they have to say. 

 

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