Visionary Leaders Hacks for Leading in Massively Uncertain Times Give Them Something to Believe In
In rollercoaster times like these, most of us are searching for the one thing that seems to be shortest in supply: certainty. We want to know what to expect, when to expect it, where we’re headed, and how we’re going to get there. As leaders, the people we lead look to us for direction when the road ahead zig-zags, dips, and dives. It’s difficult to sell certainty to our teams when we’re in the thick of confusion and chaos ourselves. In a perfect world, we could snap our fingers and make a wish for the uncertain to become certain again, for the sailing to return to smooth and blissful. In the real world, that genie-in-a-bottle make-a-wish strategy doesn’t usually work. There is no quick fix to uncertainty.
My client, Alex, is a great testament of the power of a clear action map. She was able to focus in on the beliefs she needed in order to reach her bigger vision. Shaken from failed attempts to lead with clear vision, she struggled to negotiate the mental pitfalls and obstacles that sabotaged her over and over. Finally, she was able to free herself from those obstacles and lead with renewed confidence and courage. Once she identified WHY she was in business, why she does what she does, her passion and drive flooded back in. She was electrified and excited, her goals in complete alignment with her bigger vision, and she passed that spark of clarity on to her team.
Her team no longer works in confusion, unsure of their assignments, their timelines, and their mission. Simply put, they know what to do next; they have certainty in an uncertain world. Alex no longer needs to pretend she knows what the future holds, and she no longer needs to trick her team into thinking she does, risking her credibility and her team’s trust. She no longer contributes to the uncertainty of her group and her organization, because now she’s crystal clear about her next steps. Alex can be honest, hopeful, authentic, realistic, reassuring, candid, and clear.
Uncertainty may feel discouraging and hopeless, but in reality this is an opportunity to lead well. As a leader, uncertainty presents you with an opportunity to “Give Them Something to Believe in,” as the rock band Poison challenged. Visionary leaders are those individuals who take a deep breath and step out of the crowd, with a clear picture of what to do next. Your people will follow you if you give them something to believe in.
Lead Your Team into Clarity
Imagine driving a secluded backwoods road on a night when the darkness rests as heavy and thick as a blanket. Of course you would want to flip on your headlights, but headlights can only show you what’s immediately in front of you. To see what’s coming next, you need to keep moving. Having a clear understanding of what you need to do next is just like this night-time drive: the only way to know what’s ahead is to keep driving forward.
It’s more important for your team to understand what they need to do next than what’s going to happen next. You can motivate your team forward even on the darkest road by flipping on the headlights, or, in this case, creating an action plan.
A clear action plan will provide leave your team with three vital (and simple) things:
1. Everyone knows their assignments.Take the guesswork out of what your team needs to be doing by providing clear tasks. Every team member will know the role they play within the bigger vision, and they will know where to focus their efforts.
2. Everyone knows the timeframes in which to get things done. Set a target date/time for task completion so there are fewer surprises amongst your team.
3. Everyone knows what to do next. Avoid those “Now what?” moments by discussing what your team will do once their assignments are complete. These uncertain times require leaders be bold and compassionate enough to guide others through troubled waters with vision and compassion. You may not be able to promise certainty to those around you—and I strongly caution you to avoid falling into this temptation! But you can provide the next best thing: clarity. With a solid action plan in place, you and your team can flip your headlights on and drive off onto an exciting new adventure.
CREATE A SUCCESS BLUEPRINT
My client, Alex, is a great testament of the power of The Success Blueprint. If we can’t provide certainty, we must turn to the next best thing—clarity. You may not know how to become clear on your next steps, and don’t worry—you’re not alone. I have developed a tool called The Success Blueprint, included in my course, to help leaders such as yourself chart a path toward greater clarity. As you define what clarity looks like in your life and career, your team members will also benefit—a true win-win situation.