In the uncertainty currently facing businesses, one of the main questions is where do we go next? When do we return to work? How will we return to work? Will we offer the same products and services in the same ways we have done previously? The challenge facing leaders is that so much of this is new and unknown, and much of it is out of our control. So what can you control?
If we break the challenge down, leaders must balance 3 key time phases – the ‘now’, the ‘next’ and the ‘new’.
The ‘now’ may well simply be to keep the business afloat – survival or, indeed, revival. As you navigate the ‘now’, leaders will then require a vision of what the ‘next’ and ‘new’ will look like and how to get there. But, of course, none of us knows how the world will be or exactly how things will differ from what we are used to. As a leader, this poses difficulties when people will naturally want answers and reassurance.
A key thing to remember is that it’s OK to say, “I don’t know”. Remember, everything is new and different and the situation is changing day-by-day. So how do we manage this?
Trust, tolerance and engagement are key factors when you are faced with an environment of uncertainty and change. Be open and honest with your team. State “I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there and I don’t have all the answers, but we’re in this together and you are a key part of the process.” Acknowledge the situation and the uncertainty, then use it to bring your team closer together in finding the solutions that will best serve your customers, your community, your team and your business.
The vision you will have chosen will be one that makes sense to you. So what is the logic that makes that vision make sense in pursuit of fulfilling your purpose? Be open and honest with colleagues – “This is what we believe is right, here is the logic and this is how we’re going to test it.”
Emphasise that you want all the team to be involved in finding the solutions: work together; listen to each other; hypothesise, test and iterate. Acknowledge that you will make mistakes but you will learn from them and improve as a result. The faster you move to action now and learn through testing and reflecting on your experiences, the faster you will develop the right solutions and achieve success in the next and discover the new.
So galvanise your team and explore new ways of thinking. Embrace new ways of working. Seek opportunities that arise through the new wants and needs of your market, because if you don’t change, others will.