A Turbulent Start
It's hard to believe we're saying hello to March yet again, this time in the year 2020. If there is one thing that is striking about the year so far, it is just how much uncertainty the year has already presented, right across the globe.
Mother Nature has been in the news constantly, reminding us of her powerful force and unerring ability to stop people, their plans and routines in their tracks. We've also seen high profile business closures, none more high profile than Holden a couple of weeks ago. Several food empires have taken a significant hit or collapsed, while the coronavirus disease continues to spread. Add these events to the list of difficulties that technology brings and it feels like 2020 has served us an all-you-can eat buffet of challenges in the first two months of the year. Not to mention that we are in an election year of profound generational significance both here in Australia and internationally.
It may be a little overwhelming to contemplate but these issues provide a mere snapshot of the situations that are forcing leaders to really think about how to lead people and organisations through such uncertain times.
Often, leaders end up circling back to one very important question:
“What are all our stakeholders (staff members, suppliers, customers, and the wider community) really expecting from our organisation now and in the near future”?
Uncertainty does not have to mean that business results dry up. It does not necessarily have to mean that organisations must retreat from their ambitious business projections for 2020 and beyond. However, these times require very deliberate leadership and at the centre of this is quality communication and listening.
If you think back to a time when you truly admired a leader in the workplace, you're likely to find that what made them stand out from other bosses or colleagues, was their ability to effectively communicate. Communication and listening are two skills that successful leaders have in abundance. Both are even more important during uncertain times and as most of us know from experience, regular, clear and transparent communication isn't everyone’s 'go-to' leadership style, particularly when we are under pressure and feel as though the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
The Route Forward
The good news is that with the right mindset, planning and support, everyone can improve their communication and listening skills under pressure. Think of an Olympic athlete who trains for four years to have a chance at achieving their dream. They have all kinds of coaches on their side and engage in activities repeatedly, including pressure testing.
It may seem as though we're living through an especially difficult year, but the truth is there will always be circumstances that rock people to the core and make them feel as though they don't know what's around the corner. As a leader, one of your biggest challenges is always how to motivate the people around you so that their fear of the 'what if?' does not debilitate them but instead drives them to achieve bigger and better things together.
If you're a leader who has identified that you need some support in this space, that’s positive. You’re one step ahead. Many leaders never reach out for help and as a result, never achieve their full potential. Seek out support as needed and remember that even the most talented individuals very rarely achieve their biggest goals alone.
Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals whilst supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. www.ontalent.com.au