Leading During Ambiguous Times

This article was written based on an interview between Tomilee Tilley, Founder & President of Executives Unlimited, and Daniel Stover, Founder & CEO of Ensight Partners.

Wild swings in the stock market, new technologies that change the way we do business, and viruses that upend our daily lives can make our tomorrows seem uncertain. During times of ambiguity and ever-changing circumstances, organizations need strong leaders who can forge a path forward and spearhead innovative approaches to make businesses thrive.

As a founder, executive, or manager of your enterprise, how are you prepared to address the unexpected disruptions?

Even Leaders Need Self-Care

During times of uncertainty, the first impulse is to power through – to be strong. After all, you have employees, collaborators, and sometimes shareholders looking to you for guidance.

You may choose to bury your worries and project a persona of complete confidence but consider this: stress and anxiety will find a way to manifest themselves. You may experience a lack of sleep, fatigue, or lowered immunity, all of which can affect your work performance. When the time calls for you to swiftly respond to challenges and new opportunities, will you have the clarity and physical stamina to act on them?

Before embarking on a marathon of Zoom meetings, email memos, and teleconferences, take a moment to focus on yourself and be still. Recognizing how you are feeling in the moment will help you to manage the way you send and receive information. Take time to reflect in ways that work best for you, such as exercising, meditation, or a support system of family and friends.

Understanding and addressing your emotions and exhibiting your vulnerability and compassion will help you uplift and connect with your employees and organization.

The Type of Leadership Your Employees Need

When the future seems unclear, recognize that your staff and business partners will likely be experiencing the same anxiety and stress. As a leader, however, you face a unique challenge of balancing your own feelings while reassuring others.

Outline the challenges ahead, but also use this opportunity to strengthen employee engagement. Approximately one-third of employees report being bored at work and in search of new challenges. As your business pivots to address ambiguity, staffers can learn new skills, assume new responsibilities, and train others. With more employees vested the company’s future, not only will you see employee productivity increase by as much as 22%, but you will also cultivate a robust corporate culture.

At Executives Unlimited, we continue to offer advice to industry leaders during challenging times. We have all needed to quickly adjust to the changes of working remotely and now we face reentry to socially distant work habits with different modes of communication. A leader’s role remains to inspire employees to paint their own canvas and develop resiliency. Communication and collaboration will be your company’s greatest strengths. Be prepared to adjust to the changing times and business models.