As I coach, every day I see leaders across the spectrum affected emotionally by the continuous spate of uncertainty and layoffs. Often they exhibit a strong impulse to put their head down in a subconscious attempt to hide and focus on defending what they have. In the dynamic and ever-changing business world, protecting the current is not enough, but it is essential and needs to be done strategically, not from a position of fear. Uncertain times need leaders to be agile, flexible, proactive, and persistent while managing themselves, their teams, customers, and stakeholders.
Here are a few tips for leaders to manage themselves better through these times. Adopting these will put you in a better position to face the challenges confronting you and stay confident –
Focus on what matters – It is easy to get swayed by the stress caused by the environment and lose sight of the big picture. Especially during a crisis, you may be receiving (and seeking) all kinds of information from every direction. You may also feel the need to act fast to prove you are in control. But you need to figure out what is relevant and important so you do not rush into solving the wrong problem. Regardless of the situation, you need to be able to pause, reflect, ask clarifying questions, make peace with the prevailing ambiguity and lack of information, and address what matters the most.
Know your strengths – It is essential to know what sets you apart and the unique way in which you add value. Your strengths are the lever you apply to the prevailing opportunities and threats in the environment. Do you differentiate yourself by enhancing quality, shortening response time, enhancing customer experience, managing risks, rallying resources for the mission, building high-performance teams, finding new markets, deepening existing relationships, etc.? Being able to articulate your strengths helps you lead with confidence.
Stay relevant – Leaders must adapt to the evolving world, respond to changing contexts and technological advancements, and engage with stakeholders effectively. By continuously developing your leadership and technical skills, you make informed decisions, drive innovation, and establish credibility. As the pace of change continues to increase, you must ask yourself what you need to learn to inspire your team and build and maintain trust with your community.
Know what you can control – Knowing what you can and cannot control can make all the difference while dealing with a seemingly impossible situation. You may have no power over the economy, but you control how you respond to it, the opportunities you spot, and how you avail of them. You can manage your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This discernment is critical to your ability to prioritize and respond to external threats and not get caught in reactive decision-making or indecision. Remember the serenity prayer – God, grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference. Focusing on what you can control and taking action based on that enables you to thrive regardless of the situation.
Finally, to navigate these difficult times, leaders must focus on what truly matters, remember their unique strengths, stay relevant, and focus on what they can control. By not losing sight of the larger picture and their abilities to deal with it, they can continue to add value and lead with confidence despite stressful situations.