Leaders today find themselves in many challenging external and internal situations. It is our responsibility as leaders to help our people navigate through these challenges as they arise.
Our ability to provide clear communication, build trust and maintain relationships is key to our ability to lead others to success. We must have a sound strategic vision, deeply informed by feedback from employees, customers and stakeholders; they must believe in the strategy and short-term goals, pursue them with energy, and adjust course as needed to compete; they must work constantly to attract, retain and engage talent.
Leading through uncertainty is a universal opportunity for leaders. I’ve put together five key rules I feel can help leaders be effective in leading through uncertainty. These rules are based on my own experience in dealing with challenges and taking my teams through these troubled waters to success.
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1. Share Knowledge: In times of uncertainly, lack of knowledge creates chaos. People need information to when there is uncertainty. Share what you know and focus on the impact of the information you have to share. Offer information on how you are making decisions in the moment and give guidelines as well.
2. “I don’t know”: Be honest when you don’t know. Don’t fake your way through it. People can pick up on when you are faking or “misguiding” them with false information. You may feel you are protecting your team, but in reality you are just giving them false hope. Acknowledge what you don’t know. Let your people know what you can control and what you cannot control. This gives them a sense of peace of mind to at least calm them in the storm.
3. Don’t BS: When facing uncertainty don’t pussy foot around with information. If you only have part of the information to share, share what you can. Don’t drag out the information. Keep it brief, keep it on point. Think about how you would like to hear the information. Do you want to hear the whole truth or a bunch of fluff? Your people are going to react the same way you would.
4. Ask for Feedback/Input: Never assume you have to make all the decisions alone. The people in your inner circle most likely want to assist and will have great ideas to help you move forward. Ask! Don’t be bashful. Get their input and feedback.
5. Keep in touch, stay engaged: Never assume you only have to spread the message once. Spread the message and repeat often. You will need to stay on top of your team and people to ensure they are listening, hearing and comprehending your message. Keep sharing, keep talking and really listen to make sure they are getting the message you are sending out. Stay engaged with your organization. Keep sharing what you know when you know it and can share it. Keep asking for input. If there is a lack of clear and relevant communication from you and with you, people are going to fill the vacuum with their own version and they will start making up things if you don’t keep your message fresh and in their minds. You don’t want that.
Uncertainty is another rite of passage for a leader. It is in these moments where the character of a leader is molded and formed. Your value as a leader will rise and fall in these moments. Be prepared to be a leader when the moment arises.