Leading and managing an organization through times of uncertainty and unpredictability requires a variety of leadership competencies and skills. Here are six important ones:
Situational awareness is understanding how external and internal trends, such as changes in consumer demand, economic shifts, or new government policies, can impact the organization. For example, leaders with strong situational awareness anticipate how a given policy change will impact different areas of the company and identify relevant strategies to improve the company’s position.
While situational awareness requires leaders to have a good understanding of trends, self-awareness is the ability of leaders to understand their own emotions and motives, keep their own personal biases in check, and make better decisions. For example, a leader whose primary motivation is to win the affection and approval of others will have a difficult time making tough decisions unless he or she recognizes this tendency and keeps it in check.
Complex problems often have multiple causes, and thus have no easy solutions. In large organizations, any action can have multiple outcomes and even unintended consequences. For instance, eliminating employees to reduce costs while maintaining the same level of production may result in more overtime work and outsourcing, which can become expensive enough to negate the intended savings.
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It’s equally important in times of uncertainty to identify investments or strategies that will effectively deal with the issue as it is to identify previous priorities that are no longer as important. This is a competency that requires the ability to gather input from diverse sources, to assemble teams to engage in strategic thinking and planning, and to make decisions that stick. Even the most experienced leaders struggle to get it right at times.
Related blog: How to prioritize tasks when managing a team
In the face of uncertainty, leaders need to be able to encourage and facilitate new approaches and new ways of doing business. They need to ask: “How can we convert this challenge into an opportunity? What should we do differently? What should we keep doing, what should we stop doing, what should we start doing?” Leaders need to not only cultivate ideas; they also need to be skilled in translating a given idea into a set of actions.
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As events unfold, leaders need to effectively engage and communicate with staff at all levels of the organization. They need to keep people informed. They need to help people appreciate what’s going on. They need to engage people in soliciting ideas and solutions. All of this needs to occur even while events are unfolding at considerable speed.
If you’re looking to learn more about agile leadership, or if you’re ready to take your leadership game to the next level, contact us to speak with a consultant.
Leading Resources, Inc. is a Sacramento Leadership Coaching firm that develops leaders and leading organizations. Subscribe to our leadership development newsletter to download the PDF – “The 6 Trust-Building Habits of Leaders” to learn more about how to build trust with your team.