"...the only thing we have to fear...
...is fear itself..."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke these words at the beginning of his inaugural address on March 4, 1933. As I read through the entire inaugural address to understand its full context, it occurred to me he was speaking about Leadership, both his and that of the citizenry of that time. Fast-forward to today and we find the message of effective leadership in uncertain times remains resolute.
What does it mean for leaders to remain resolute and effectively lead in a dynamic and fast changing business environment? In our ongoing work with clients, these are the main themes of focus for effective leadership.
- Lead with Attitude ~ Effective leaders inherently know that attitude leads behavior. What we think, we do. If leaders think of uncertainty as a crisis, then no matter how hard they try, a certain level of panic will ensue. Effective leaders know that how they show up matters and are consciously aware of how they present themselves in their communications. Another attitude that matters in uncertainty is the mindset of always moving forward. While self-isolation is necessary under current conditions, forward progress does not have to suffer because of it. Effective leaders are always looking to the next move forward, however incremental it may be. When others see this forward movement, it sends a clear signal of trust and confidence in their leadership!
- Make Decisions ~ Making decisions in uncertain times is risky on a good day! However, decisions must be made to create the forward movement we spoke of in the previous paragraph. Effective decision-making involves several key elements. First and foremost, effective leaders educate themselves from the most reliable sources available. They understand the value of facts from credible sources that provide information around worst case, best case and most likely case scenarios. This provides leaders with objective data sets to make their own contingency plans with a range of options and avoid limiting themselves with worst case subjective data and opinions. Even when assumptions don’t pan out as expected (and they will), effective leaders are quick to recognize and revise the plan to the next decision!
- Communicate Effectively ~ Aristotle is credited with the saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Business cannot exist in a communications vacuum! Effective communications can only occur when the sender and the receiver understand the message in the same context. Effective leaders know how important it is to communicate the meaning of the information they share in a way that makes it easy to understand so their teams know the right next actions based on their message. We spend quite a bit of time with our clients on effective communications due to its importance to effective leadership. Even simply changes like using active voice versus passive voice or asking clarifying questions give followers a heightened sense of confidence in their leadership!
A recurring theme to this new normal is how effective leadership shows itself when life throws a massive curveball. Faux leaders will crumble and try to manage their way out of risky situations. Effective leaders have the courage to take their positions front and center and lead their teams, organizations, agencies and businesses forward to sustainable success!
How is your leadership helping your team manage fear and uncertainty?