It may be a new year, but we’re still facing many of the same challenges. Much of our workforce is still at home balancing caring for young children and virtual learning. Those who are working in person are wrestling with the reality of keeping physically distanced from their co-workers while worrying about staying healthy.
Exacerbating these COVID conditions, many businesses now exist within a volatile and uncertain world. Will demand for our products and services continue to exist? How will pricing change? How long will supply chain issues continue to impact us? What services will be in demand? On the people side, how do we keep employees engaged to meet these changing demands? How do we help employees evolve and succeed?
With questions like these keeping us up at night, how do we lead in these challenging times? The following six leadership actions can provide direction and focus for forward progress.
Be present with your emotions – If we want our teams to deliver exceptional performance, then we need to begin by managing our own emotional reactions to this uncharted territory. This doesn’t mean pretending nothing has changed or glossing over the challenges. We need to acknowledge our fears and anxieties about the uncertainty around us, and in doing so acknowledge everyone else’s concerns too.
Well, this past year was quite the trial, and the new year is already off to a wild start. With all the volatility, uncertainty, and ambiguity in our complex world, it may seem absurd even to try to make 2021 our best year ever. One thing is certain though. We cannot sit on the sidelines waiting for things to get better. There is no magic pill or government intervention that will cure things. We don’t know when life will get back to “normal,” and there’s no guarantee what we thought was normal before will ever even return.
When the world around us changes at an ever-accelerating pace and it seems more and more obstacles are being thrown our way, we must determine how to manage effectively. We must make critical decisions in an environment where it is hard to predict what the future holds. We are continually challenged to make decisions that can have significant and long-term impact on our business, our employees, and our own careers and lives.
As leaders, our job is to forge ahead with plans and actions to drive business results. A key challenge of leading in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world is to integrate greater flexibility into our business. Long-term planning is still important as we need that guiding light, that true north, to help us focus on our intended destination. We need a healthy balance of near-term planning too to drive agility.
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Or maybe you strategically set goals for your company to achieve. Surprisingly, most people and most organizations do not actually set their strategic intentions at the beginning of the year. When they do, they often are simple statements like “I’m going to get in shape” or “We want to grow our business.”
These are great ideas, but they aren’t very well-articulated goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Other than tremendous luck or good fortune, you aren’t likely to achieve your true potential without setting very clear and specific goals. That’s why we always say that identifying your “lighthouse” is absolutely essential to achieving your personal and professional objectives.
Being committed to one’s own success can deliver powerful results. That’s because our intentions serve as guardrails to keep us focused on our ideal outcomes. Intentions also drive our near-term actions and keep us moving – one foot in front of the other, one day at a time – even during these challenging and uncertain times. Without well-defined lighthouse goals and a crystal-clear Vision for what matters most to us, we can easily be distracted by new opportunities that take us off course. We can also run out of energy without the clarity to keep pushing on.