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VISION 2020: Leading Through Uncertainty

Only three months into a new decade, and 2020 is already presenting the kind of challenges that most of us never thought we’d experience. Leading your team through mass disruption caused by a global pandemic? Seems unlikely… until you’re in the thick of it, trying to normalize operations in the midst of extreme uncertainty. Times like these call for a spirit of creativity, gratefulness, heightened purpose and increased empathy. Leading with these principles in mind will see you through the hard times, and make your organization even stronger for the future.

Ultimately, Vision 2020 is about strengthening your people and your business for whatever challenges may arise – and that resiliency and future-oriented perspective is needed now more than ever.

4 Tenets for Leading Your Organization Through Uncertainty and Disruption

PERSPECTIVE

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Ambiguity is made worse by focusing on all the negatives – right now many of us are dealing with a huge lack of knowledge caused by the global COVID-19 quarantines. When will our teams be able to gather again? When will events and in-person collaborations resume? Will our clients be able to weather the storm? There’s a lot we don’t know – and we also don’t yet know what the resolution to these problems will be. The solution? Change your perspective, now.

Focus on gratefulness for your people, your business, and your current and future opportunities. By centering your perspective on appreciation, you are changing your mentality from victim, to owner. The owner doesn’t empower the unknowns – instead, they empower their team. And strengthening your team will ensure that your business comes out on the other side in the best position possible.

ACTION: Let your team know that you have their best interests – and therefore, the interests of the company – in mind by maintaining their emotional and physical wellness. During this period, that means following guidelines for social distancing and ensuring that your team can work from home productively.

 

PURPOSE

“True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller

Clarity of vision and purpose is essential during periods of ambiguity. Strategies may change as new events unfold, but your purpose should remain consistent. Uncertain times present many challenges, but they also present an opportunity to live out your values in a way that brings organizations together.

ACTION: If you haven’t touched base with your organizational purpose recently, start small with a quick exercise:

  1. Take stock of your goals and strategies. What is driving you, your team, and the company?
  2. What do you care most about doing for your employees, partners, stakeholders, customers and community?
  3. How does this situation offer a UNIQUE opportunity to realize some of your goals? You won’t be able to move forward on all objectives, but you may find that this difficult period offers valuable time to advance some of your strategic and mission-oriented goals.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, share it with your colleagues and teammates in a “North Star” meeting – or email, or phone call. This will help you reorient your team in a difficult time, and remind them that some things stay consistent in a storm.

 

PEOPLE

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher

It all comes down to relationships. Your employees and your clients are your most significant relationships, and they should receive top priority when it comes to communication and visibility. With a perspective geared towards gratefulness and empowerment, your people should know that their needs are important – and that you’re always being transparent with them.

ACTION: During times of uncertainty, embrace an “early and often” strategy. That means communicating often, openly, and with transparency – even if you don’t know everything. Going dark will only increase anxiety, and lead to a loss of confidence in your leadership skills. Keeping to a regular schedule of communication has the extra benefit of providing structure; giving your employees the chance to plug in, receive up-to-date news, and maintain their productivity with the fullest knowledge in the midst of disruption.

 

PROBLEM SOLVING

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

We’re in the middle of a situation that no one could have predicted… and what happens over the next few months could make or break organizations. You and your team’s ability to solve problems creatively can be the difference between thriving – or falling victim to this period of mass disruption. This is the time to make decisions that are aligned with your purpose and values, even as you move through the “gray” zone of uncertainty.

ACTION: Through regular communication with your team, harness their innovative energy (uncertainty often leads people to think in new ways) for new ideas that will continue to drive results for your clients and company. Your front-line, boots-on-the-ground employees are likely to have great ideas for streamlining solutions to the most immediate problems your company is facing.

This Vision 2020 installment is driven by today’s unique situation – but it is relevant for any period of ambiguity, disruption, or uncertainty your business may be going through. In times of mass uncertainty, you can still lead with purpose, clarity and a perspective bolstered by gratefulness – remembering that we’re all in it together.

Vision 2020 is about examining trends, pointing out gaps, and giving companies a framework for making the most of their top resource – their people. This series will provide a full-spectrum view on what it takes to be competitive on people strategy in 2020. Read the Vision 2020 installments: A 5-Step Organizational Audit for the New Year and Lead With Culture.

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.

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