Leading During Uncertain Times

blog Jul 21, 2021

At the time of writing this here in Australia we are in the midst of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. It feels like a dance, the in and out of lockdown dance. Unlike the initial periods of impact this virus had on us, where we were ‘all in it together’ we are now quite often a country divided. Victoria has been in and out of lockdown more times than they care to count, Sydney are in the midst of a long drawn out period of restrictions and in fact right now more than half the population are currently under some form of restrictions.

With all of the uncertainty that the last 18 months has delivered, one thing that has proven certain is this: all businesses require great leaders to survive and flourish, and through a period of crisis in any organisation, economy or environment, it’s our business leaders who have the ability to really pull us through.

If you’re in a leadership role, whether it’s your business or someone else’s, that fact may feel like a lot of pressure, decision fatigue may be setting in and the flux of constant change in what you, your business and your team can and can’t do may be starting to take a toll.

So, what actions can you take right now to steer your team through an uncertain time, when you often can’t give answers to anyone about what can happen when?

Pause
Initially, it’s not only ok, but almost required that you as the leader pause and take a moment to internally process what is going on so that you can assess the best way to move forward. This allows you to respond more proactively rather than being in constant reaction mode.

Whilst you don’t want to be stuck in indecision or analysis paralysis, it is important to take a moment to digest, especially when there has been a change, whether that’s a change in Government direction, a change in team availability due to home schooling obligations or health and safety reasons – take a moment to get it clear in your head first.

Communicate
Sounds obvious yet so powerful, the next thing to do is open the communication lines with the team. Jump on a Zoom call, or whatever a team meeting looks like for you, get everyone together to communicate consistently and transparently. This doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers, in fact your team might be part of finding the answers, but it is about sharing what you know, and what plans you know you need to action and what is yet to be determined.

Importantly here, communication is also about listening. Ask your team how they are going, listen to what they are experiencing, feeling or seeing. This might be different for everyone and that’s ok, just listen and see what you can do to help calm any concerns.

One of the other things your team needs right now is clarity and direction, as far as you can give that. Communicating what needs to happen, what you require of them, what you are doing and when the next decision will need to be made are some of the fundamental things you can communicate right now.

Act Promptly
Quick, swift and measured actions and responses are important, but the key here is that you respond not react. You can’t do that until you have paused, considered the options, communicated with the team and decided what actions need to be taken and in which order. Prompt, measured actions create confidence, hurried reactions lead to uncertainty.

Stay Connected
We have all gotten really used to this by now, but to some extent we have let it slip and become complacent. When the initial COVID restrictions hit us last year we got really good at Zoom meetings, even Zoom social catch ups, Friday drinks, morning teas and alike. But as we transitioned back to in office work, and created our new hybrid teams model some of this connection activity was forgotten. It’s an important reminder, especially when we’re in uncertain times, that we stay connected to each other in the team. This means you staying connected with your team, as well as finding ways to create ways for your team to remain connected with each other.

Be Future Focused
Stay future focused and choose a positive future to focus on. You may not know exactly how and when that future will be possible, but this uncertainty is just temporary, and there will be some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. This is not about giving the team false hope, that helps no one, but focusing on what the future can look like, and what might need to be achieved along the way to get there can help the team focus on the positive not the uncertainty.

No one loves or thrives in uncertain times, human nature says we like to try and take back control and create certainty, it makes us feel safer and less exposed. But despite the unease with the uncertainty around us, these 5 strategies can help you create that sense of control, even if on a small level, for you and your team during these times.

An Invitation
If you’d like to engage more with me in these discussions about creating amazing teams, whilst also connecting with other like minded business owners, leaders and managers, I’d love for you to join us inside our free Facebook Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/hrsupportaustralia

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