Leading Teams Through Uncertain Times

When the environment is volatile and complex we need a different kind of leadership

We hear so much about the accelerated rate of change that so many businesses are struggling to deal with right now and the need to lead teams through periods of high volatility and uncertainty. The Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle is a relatively well-known way of thinking about the more emotive responses to high levels of change and unpredictability.

Our initial response may well be founded in shock and even denial that the change is even happening. The leadership response to this should be founded in clear messaging and signals about the reality of the need to change.

We then may react with anger and frustration, which calls for understanding but also communication and information.

Some may feel overwhelmed by change, and even slightly lost, in which case coaching and support will help.

The importance of storytelling, shared experiences, guidance and direction to help people to find their own meaning in the change and eventually to accept and move on.

It’s a great way of thinking about the stages of change but of-course the reality of the transformation that many organisations are undergoing is less of transition from A to B and more of a journey to become a business that in itself is characterised by continuous change. So the point that many miss is that a leader trying to navigate this process will likely find that they need to deal with these reactions from many different sources and all at once.

The real skill in leading through times of high uncertainty is being highly tuned to the emotive context of our surroundings. To have empathy. Sure, we need clear direction, continuous communication, shared learning, accountability, openness and transparency, and a bias towards action, but we also need the emotional intelligence to understand the support that people really need to come on the journey with us.

Neil Perkin

Author Neil Perkin

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