15 Apr Leading in Uncertain Times
One thing we know for sure … we certainly don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If there is anything the current pandemic has shown us is that even the best-laid plans for tomorrow, next week or the next few months can go amok when reality steps and… well, you know the rest.
That’s actually the beauty of the future. You can shape it, influence it, but never control it. So the key words here are “shape” and “influence.” The best leaders do just that when it comes to the future. They adapt and maneuver through all the twists, turns and surprises encountered along the way. In fact, these leaders thrive on it and the results have led to some of the world’s best innovations.
But it isn’t easy. Leading into tomorrow’s unknown is about making and acting on the best predictions. The closest any leader will ever get to having a crystal ball is his or her ability to understand the dynamics of the past and incorporate three essentials: good judgment, innovative thinking and smart risk taking. There is much truth to the phrase, “Thoughts become things.” Just make sure you’re working with (and acting on) well-formulated ideas.
To help, here are some no-compromise strategies to lead your company into the future:
To flow or not to flow: Going with the flow is like a flag blowing in the wind. You’re going wherever the wind blows with little or no control. In business, going with the flow means following a trend. It’s easier and more comfortable to be part of the collective momentum. But the downside is it limits your options and ability to steer the ship. By the time you realize the “flow” is derailed from your vision, it can take enormous amounts of energy and resources to change direction.
Push forward when others do not: In business, fear is like cement. It’s heavy and a company can easily become stuck. Unfortunately, the only way to break free is to literally “bust” free. As a business leader you are surrounded by situations and circumstances that feed on fear. While you have key people who may be able to provide helpful information or guidance, only you can decide how to react and maintain your perspective. There are really two choices:
- Hunker down and hope for the best
- Confront fear with action
The best question to ask yourself is, “What’s the worst that can happen by pushing forward?” It’s interesting how quickly a shift in thinking can absolve fear.
There is no map: You can have the best direction, objective, strategy and action plan but there is no road map to the future. There are far too many curves and dealing with the unknown is reality. Remember action is power. Courage and tenacity is strength. There’s nothing wrong with a few detours and setbacks; such tests build character. Allow yourself to create the future one day at a time, one step at a time and one win at a time.
Change means change: The one constant about the future is that “change is relentless.” You can’t stop it or avoid it. But human nature is to seek comfort and establish our own “normal.” When you’re intent on influencing the future, comfort zones are merely rest stops and embracing change becomes your “norm.” You can argue with change. You can avoid change. But as the leader of your company, you will eventually have to change. If you don’t, the business and all the hard work will become irrelevant.
Believe in your vision: It gets you out of bed every day. It drives you every day. It is a quest and gives meaning to your life. If you don’t believe in your vision, no one else ever will. If you’re not passionate about your vision, no one else will be either. If you quit on your vision, those around you will follow.
Believe in yourself: You may question your abilities – but you can strengthen them. You may doubt yourself – but you can emerge confident and determined. You may think that you may not achieve extraordinary success – but that’s just a narrative and you can rewrite the script.
I’ll leave you with the words of wisdom given to me as I began my entrepreneurial journey… Never quit. Quitting is easy but destructive.