Leaders want to know how to lead in these uncertain times. While there are some signs of optimism at work – returning customers and expanding orders, plenty of uncertainty still remains. Employees hunger for reassurance and concrete commitments, yet often supervisors are unable to offer them. Although it is difficult to offer clear, firm direction in this climate, there are specific things you can do that will make a difference.
1. Focus on what you do know. Sometimes when there is uncertainty, leaders tend to talk about all the things they don’t know. Yet, there are some things that are clear and can be communicated. Try to focus there.
2. Look towards the future. In the past, your company may have experienced a booming economy and big orders, but there is little to be gained by looking back. Not only is the future where new opportunities lie, but some changes made in response to the economic downturn have had a positive, hopefully long-lasting effect.
3. Pump up the positive. Stressful situations shorten tempers and lead to angry outbursts. Faultfinding makes it even worse. Find constructive outlets for dealing with your anger, frustration, and emotions. This is a good time to consciously dole out positive reinforcements without seeming like you are faking it or insincere.
4. Be empathetic. Some people are going through more than you know. They may have unemployed family members. Their houses may be under water. You may be totally unaware of the stresses they are experiencing. Be sensitive to issues other people are facing. Don’t assume if things are better for you, that things are better for them as well.
5. Take actions; make decisions. In uncertain times there is a tendency to adopt the “wait and see” approach. It is safer to stall, wait, and avoid doing anything rash. No one will blame you if you keep your head down. This is a time however where leaders can distinguish themselves. Be action-oriented.
6. Be realistic. This is a time to be positive, but not overly Pollyannaish. Belief that good things will happen must be tempered with realism and patience. Making false promises or unrealistic expectations will undermine your credibility.
How you response during these still uncertain times matters. Are you exhibiting the behaviors that can make a difference to your people and your organization?