Leading During Uncertainty

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As I have reflected on these past 7 days, it has been challenging to stay in Curious Brain mode.  I recall last week deciding to deep dive into Twitter and learn more about the virus.  My brain immediately went into Anxious Brain mode and it has been challenging to transition back.  Our brains toggle back and forth between Anxious Brain and Curious Brain mode throughout the day.  During a time of crisis, we will default to Anxious Brain as we feel as though we are under attack.

I then began to think about my clients as they face many decisions, demands from direct reports and economic uncertainty, it is challenging to stay in curious brain mode.

How do you lead through a crisis or uncertainty? Here are a few suggestions:

Lead Yourself First: You will not be able to successfully lead your team unless you are aware of your anxiety and stress.  If you do not see the impact that the external factors are having on you personally, you will not be able to stay clear to lead others.  Ensuring that you are sleeping, exercising and staying present will be critical as you lead.  Moving from Anxious to Curious Brain is about being mindful and having intention to move to Curious Brain.

Lead Your Team:  Your employees need certainty and communication.  The more certainty you can provide the greater the chance you can help them move to curious brain.  What is the certainty you can provide right now? Certainty could be anything related to the PTO policy during the pandemic and how they can be assured of success by working from home.  The more you communicate with them the lower the probability that they will create their own story about the future.  Find ways to connect with your team during this time.

Lead Your Business:  What are some of the opportunities available to you during this time? What is your vision? It may be time to refresh your vision for the company and share this out in a new way to your employees.  Stay focused on your preferred future while facing the reality of the current.  Decisive is the best approach now as you may need to make timely decisions to seize the opportunities available to you.

A few reads that may be helpful for you –

How To Lead Through A Crisis – Center for Creative Leadership – This reading is long but there are some great practical tips to help you create a Crisis Action Plan

Leadership In Turbulent Times –  This was one of my favorite reads of 2019. A historical account of how Lincoln, Eisenhower and Johnson navigated challenging times.

The Power Of Now –  Staying in the moment vs. concerning yourself with the future or dwelling about the past. Tolle captures the importance of staying present in Curious Brain vs. dwelling in anxiety.

I want to encourage you that leadership is not just about the title, it is about influencing others.  You have the chance to influence others positively during this season.