I have spoken to many people recently who have confessed that the disruption caused by a global pandemic and other challenging factors this year has affected them negatively and caused them to lose the momentum they had before the disruption. Business leaders tell me that asking their teams to work on projects to change and enhance how they do business is almost more than some can handle. Driving change inside your organization can be challenging when change outside your organization weighs heavily on everyone.
What’s a Leader to Do?
Because all progress requires change, a leader must continue moving the business forward. In times of uncertainty outside the organization, leaders must develop a set of best practices to lead change inside the organization. Here are five ideas to help your team move forward when times are unusually uncertain.
- Manage perspectives – YOURS and OTHERS. How people view things will determine how they do things. A lot of what holds people back from making progress in times of considerable uncertainty is the feeling that they have lost control. As a leader, you help yourself and others by talking openly about what’s going on and how it is affecting us. Help your team understand that there are things we can control and things we cannot control. Help them develop a positive life stance that looks not at what happened, but what’s now possible because of what happened.
- Make it personal. What negatively affects one person may not affect another. Leaders need to know the people on their team and how the current conditions are affecting their outlook and emotions. When external forces are affecting your team, you need to be especially aware of each individual’s response to the current conditions. A leader can help relieve some of the tension others are feeling by listening with empathy and allowing the other person to have a voice in how we move forward.
- Expect Resistance. We want to believe that everyone will get on board with the changes going on, but they don’t. People on your team most likely won’t tell you they have anxiety about what’s going on outside your business; reluctance comes in code. They may be slow to act or need to be reminded multiple times to take action. Some may even refuse to do what needs to be done. In times like these, leaders can increase communication and touchpoints with the team to reduce anxiety and allow others to be heard. The simple act of listening and allowing others to talk it out can break down barriers of resistance
- Plans May Change. Your vision for the business doesn’t change, but your plans on how to fulfill that vision may. This is true even when times are not uncertain, but it is especially true when they are. Monitor the situation with your team and with the external conditions affecting your business. Collaborate with your team to make the changes necessary to move forward. Sticking with a plan that was developed before market changes occurred can be a disaster. Recast your vision and rebuild your plans to navigate uncertain times.
- Communicate, Celebrate, Communicate. Great leaders continuously communicate vision and direction. Staying on message is critical for leading teams in times of uncertainty. Celebrating small wins in another way to keep people focused on the goal and reduce anxiety. Knowing that progress is being made and that what we are doing matters helps to develop a positive momentum that can carry you through almost any challenge.
Anyone can sail a boat on calm seas; it takes a leader to chart the course and navigate the way when seas are rough. Leadership is not developed in trying and uncertain times, it is revealed. What are the current conditions revealing about you?
The Corporate Solutions Group offers John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership principles in a Private Workshop setting; these workshops can be conducted either onsite or virtually to meet your level of safety requirements. The development of leadership culture presented in this workshop is a great way to set a common language throughout your team and organization to recapture or newly establish momentum. This workshop is also being offered as a virtual Public Workshop this coming Fall.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.