Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On Uncertainty

My TEC III member, Fred Johnson, who heads InitiativeOne, a leadership development consultancy now headquartered in Green Bay, monthly provides a workshop for 15-20 attendees for 45 minutes.  A recent one was on Uncertainty … and how an effective Leader deals with it.

Being effective isn’t natural.  
What is natural is to be overwhelmed by the unplanned situation, uncertain over what path to deal with it, thus creating panic and indecision.

So, how to react in an effective manner?  He points to four efforts:
1.  Ramp up communication.  Too often, leaders hold back, waiting until they have perfect information and can properly inform the workforce as to the path that must be taken.  In the meantime, the workforce knows something bad is going on, and undergoes various levels of anxiety because of the lack of information.  If they had it, they could be more in control of their own reactions.  Much better:  ESPECIALLY in bad situations, keep people informed of what you do know, and what additional information you’re looking for.
2.  Rely on your Values and Vision.  “It’s all you have, and all you need.”  Much of the activity in a bad situation, and much of the alternative paths … don’t take you towards your original Purpose, which is your vision.  Look for the path that best reduces the negatives, and moves you forward towards that Purpose.
3.  Keep asking questions, seeking wise counsel.  Great leaders know they need help and constantly seek it.  From the insights and counsel of others, they will be able to discern the correct path.  You never know from whom the “critical insight” or “wise-est” counsel will come.
4.  Maintain Calm.  Acknowledge the challenge, and approach it with deliberateness.  Everyone is watching you and how you go about your decision-making.  You may be in turmoil inside, but maintain calm on the outside, while constantly doing Points 1-3, above.

Other insights from attendees:
•   “I’ve noticed that when I worry, I shut down my creativity.”
•  “My father was a pilot, and frequently cautioned, ‘don’t worry about the altitude above you, or the runway behind you.’  We use that a lot when looking at problems.”
•  “Look at how your plans changed from what they were on 9/10 … to what they needed to be on 9/12.”

•  “Do your employees know what your Vision for the organization is?  Where you’re taking everyone?"

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