Weather the Storm - Leading Through Turbulence

| By Sue Bryant

Weathering the storm

The climate of global uncertainty that we operate within today presents organizations and their leadership with some genuinely complex challenges.  

In fact, the very concept of leadership has had to evolve accordingly in order to account for the complexities and paradoxes coming from all directions.

Maintaining focus on opportunity beyond the crises is essential, however sharing the vision with others and keeping the momentum is an extremely challenging mission indeed.  

Three seemingly contrasting characteristics can often be the key for leaders in their quest to drive results in turbulent times: 

Authentic Flexibility

Reflective Decisiveness

Confident Humility

At a recent client leadership programme, we explored new insights into leading through turbulence and examined the three elements in detail.

The global firm we worked with was doing well in terms of revenue and investor confidence. However, with research and development being the lifeblood of the company, the Directors were keen to address the very real challenge of engendering creativity, risk-taking and innovation at a time when most people wanted to hibernate from the storm.

During one activity, groups were assigned to each of the contrasting attributes and asked to agree which leader behaviours would best demonstrate that particular quality. After some interesting comparative discussions, it became apparent that there was one common thread fundamental to all three - the ability to ask the right questions of ourselves and of others.

Authentic Flexibility is being clear and firm about your own core values yet having enough adaptability to flex according to changing circumstances. 

Leaders who display this strait ask questions such as;

"As we look for new ways to innovate, what are the things we should not change?"

"Do the people around me see and hear the real me?"

"What life experiences have shaped my values, and how do I demonstrate them at work?"

Reflective Decisiveness is the ability to make time to stand back and survey the bigger landscape yet not be paralysed by over - analysis so that actions can be taken in a timely manner.

"Am I taking enough time to think? If not, how and when can I reflect more?"

"What do we need to do to reach the goal?"

"How will we know when we’re there?"

"If we were to try something different, what lessons from the past should we revisit?" 

These are examples of questions that Reflective Deciveness oriented leaders will ask.

Confident Humility is getting things done in a quiet, confident way where personal ego is directed away from one’s self.   Others are encouraged to take centre stage when the time is right. 

Leaders who are strong in this area will typically ask questions such as; 

"How am I doing on this?"

"What should I do differently next time?"

"What kind of leadership do you think is required right now?"

Encouraging leaders to ask searching and revealing questions forces them to think about the choices they are making at a time when decision-making feels 'out of our hands'.