Organisations today operate in highly complex, fluid and uncertain environments. The organisations typically have multiple change initiatives on the go, each with deep impact. As a result, uncertainty, surprise and change have become pervasive in organisations.
Unfortunately, the skills of leaders to lead in this environment, and team members to cope and recover well, are not equally pervasive.
The change initiatives are sometimes beyond the ability of leaders to manage effectively. Also, team members often struggle to cope, particularly if the changes don’t make sense to them, or they are not sure of their priorities or they don’t feel valued.
The challenge that leaders face is to make fast-paced and extensive change a normal part of working life.
The following Resilient Leadership strategies will help your team members to cope during uncertainty, surprise and change:
1. Frame the team’s narrative
The issue: Team members have a deep human need to make sense of what happens in their lives. They do this primarily by creating stories or narratives about what is happening to them and to others. Teams have evolving stories which explain and make sense of their work lives in the context of organisational turbulence. In times of uncertainty and change, outlandishly negative stories from the grapevine can unfortunately become overly influential.
What to do: Clarify your team’s understanding of what is happening by connecting the dots between the present and past events, helping them understand the bigger picture and their role in it. Encourage an evolving narrative in your team which places emphasis on the power of the individuals and the group to charter their own path through the difficulties and uncertainty. Help the team keep their attention on what they can influence rather than on what they can’t.
You may have to repeat this several times before team members “get it”.
2. Engender hope and optimism
The issue: Some team members will cope well, others less so. It’s tempting then to offer easy or soothing solutions. It’s also tempting to not get involved with team members’ messy fears and confusion.
What to do: Trust that your team members have the expertise to cope and be resilient. Do this by treating them as being uncertain and confused adults but still wanting to do a good job. Focus on what is working and worthwhile to foster hope and optimism. Celebrate small wins by highlighting particular achievements of individuals.
Meet with individual team members. Welcome questions as signs they are trying to engage rather than resist. Encourage the team members to say how they feel. You don’t have to take responsibility for their feelings — your Resilient Leadership action is to simply allow negative feelings to be voiced and to listen respectfully, so that they know they have been heard.
3. Review, reflect and take action
The issue: Leaders typically leave early from one meeting to arrive late at another, constantly trying to keep up-to-date with a flood of e-mails. Time pressures, looming deadlines and general anxiety in the organisation conspire to make it difficult for leaders to take time to think together with their teams.
What to do: Prioritise regular meetings with your team. Keep the focus on the teams’ dashboard of measurements, and also on the big picture context.
Help create islands of certainty in the middle of the storm of uncertainty by talking continually clarifying their roles and focus “for now”, understanding that it’s only temporary.
Reinforce your team members interconnectivity by setting joint priorities, a joint calendar and holding each other accountability. Ask what they are learning and what is becoming clear to them. Stress the need to take small steps in the right direction, which is better than waiting for the perfect solution.
4. Be authentic
The issue: During uncertainty and change, team members need to be able to trust their leader and know that their leader “has their backs”.
What to do: Trust is built over time through small actions by being honest and consistent. So tell the truth. Check by asking yourself if your interactions and decisions today have reflected the leader you would like to be.
As appropriate, reveal your humanness and vulnerability which will help the team members to connect to the real you. Talk with candour about your experiences, admitting that there are not easy solutions. This will help the team members be more authentic too.
React to negative passageway conversations and organisational politics in ways that boost your leadership presence and authenticity.
In summary, uncertainty, surprise and change provide an opportunity for you to reveal your maturity as a leader. These four actions will help you be a resilient leader whose legacy will be the engagement of your team and the achievement of their accountabilities.
Resilient Leadership Workshop
Leaders learn how to keep stress positive. They assess their Team Members strategy-fitness and learn three resilience coaching techniques. The outcome is the leaders are better able to deliver organisational strategy and coach their team members when their resilience lags (read more here).
Building Resilience Workshop
Team members and specialists learn how to bounce back from difficult organisation and life events, such as significant change, setbacks and hardship. The outcome is they are able to resist stressful experiences impacting on their job productivity and stay calm and healthy (read more here).
Mental Strength Training
Mental Strength training helps people keep task-focused and persistent. Mental Strength training teaches the process and tools to remain composed under pressure and less vulnerable to emotional slumps at work and at home (read more here).