Clarity, Certainty and Hope
Many have spoken about VUCA times, where it all becomes Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. We had a large taste of it in 2008, during the global financial crash, but the Coronavirus has really challenged every nation, and every person.
We will share some thoughts and insights that may help you with your challenges and decision making in these difficult times.
The High Cost of Inaction
It is not wise to keep hiding behind the science or the data, leaders have to be decisive as this provides clarity and certainty in times of uncertainty. A lack of clarity just feeds the feeling of chaos and of no one really being in charge.
The lack of decision making leaves the public feeling that they may as well make their own choices, which we are already witnessing. The benefits gained by the eventual uncompromising approach to the lockdown, are being frittered away by the loose guidelines.
It now feels like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are going their own way. Instead of providing clarity, we now have chaos.
You cannot please all the people all the time, and neither should you try to. Do the right thing and do it in a resolute and forthright manner. People know this is not easy, and will respect tough calls, but they will feel disappointed when it feels like confusion.
The only thing worse than NO leadership is poor leadership.
Learning from Mistakes
When things go wrong, face up to them quickly, and be prepared to change direction, but most of all be open and honest about it. Coronavirus is unchartered territory and extremely challenging to deal with.
Be clear that as the leader, you will upset and disagree with some of your team – that’s not just OK, it’s necessary to get to the best outcome.
It is the leader’s responsibility to create an environment where all voices are heard. There must be a healthy tension in the discussions to prevent the danger of ‘group think’, where even poor decisions and tactics are nodded through.
Never move so far from the discussion that you cannot hear the dissenting voices. It is vital to have some in the team who do not think like you and are prepared to challenge you, whilst remaining part of the team and respecting its values.
It’s hard to see that Boris Johnson has any brave challengers in his cabinet. How the hell did he or they feel that the shambles that is his “stay alert” strategy was in any way appropriate?
An opportunity to lift spirits, loosen some of the restrictions and deliver some hope was not just missed, but created confusion and the Prime Minister shot himself in the foot.
Sending out Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock to try and defend the indefensible and try and clear up the unexplainable just added to the sense of chaos.
Deep Cultural Change
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter notified employees that they will be able to continue working from home as long as they see fit. Twitter has been a very early adopter of a work-from-home model, and the push has been accelerated by COVID-19 stay at home orders.
Twitter also added, “if not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return”. This is a bold and necessary move. With no end in sight to the pandemic, many businesses will have to make tough calls.
There are huge productivity and cost saving advantages to working from home, but there are serious implications on culture; socialising, collaboration and team working. The daily commute disappears, many offices and buildings may no longer be needed. But what is being given up?
No business wants to have to report a death in service due to COVID-19 spreading at their places of work.
There will be no return to normal. Business leaders must be bold and put their colleague’s safety at the heart of all decision making, whilst simultaneously fighting to keep their businesses alive.
So many people are having to get to grips with the working from home (WFH) dynamic for the first time. Some are struggling with the ongoing isolation and are missing the social side of attending their place of work. Leaders need to recognise this early.
Smart leaders are setting up calls by Zoom or by phone with no fixed agenda, but just enabling whoever wants to join in for a catch up, a chat, a gossip or whatever it takes to reconnect and feel part of something special.
It’s the remote equivalent of Management by Walking Around (MBWA). Just checking in to see if everyone is OK, and if there’s anything that might be picked up that needs sorting out or good news that needs circulating.
Most of all, it helps demonstrate that leaders care, are in tune and are available. It’s a relatively small act with a potentially huge payback, but you have to do it regularly for it to be respected and trusted.
What do You Think?
the four most powerful words leaders can use during a crisis. Just by taking the time to ask those who might be feeling a little ‘out of sight and out of mind’ whilst working from home, can make them feel valued.
By asking those who are not part of your management team, and may not have many, if any conversations with you, they too will feel that their views are respected and appreciated. They will give a little more now for the cause.
By asking What do You Think? And listening carefully to the response, you will have established engagement.
By acting on the response you receive you will have created trust.
Get into the habit of asking all your people – What do You Think? It costs nothing and gains you loads.