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Leadership in difficult times


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When it comes to leadership, there will always be times of uncertainty. The challenge in these times is to be able to lead from a position of trust despite the unstable environment. Here are some strategies:

1. Know your own limits

Do an honest self-evaluation. Find out how much (or how little) you trust yourself and your abilities so you know when to take action and when to step back. This will help you make better decisions that lead to positive outcomes for you and your organization. Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What am I feeling?
  • How well founded are my beliefs about a particular situation? 
  • Are my arguments logical or emotional? 
  • Have I weighed all the pros and cons of the situation? 
  • What are the possible consequences of acting on my beliefs? 
  • Would others agree with me, and if not, why not? 
  • What information do I need to consider before making a decision?

It's normal to want to regulate everything, including things that are realistically out of our control, such as the market. That's why it's important to focus on what you can actually control - not on other people, events or outcomes.

2. Practice situational leadership

The good news is that even in uncertain times, you can maintain some influence over those around you by using situational leadership skills. Situational leadership is a flexible leadership approach based on the idea that the best way to lead is to understand and adapt to the needs of the situation at hand. It takes into account the individual characteristics of the people you lead and recognizes that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, interests, goals and priorities.

It also recognizes that situations change over time - and that your approach to leadership must adapt accordingly. What is uncertain today may no longer be so tomorrow. So don't overreact to the current situation. Be flexible, agile and pragmatic.

3. Lead with compassion

In uncertain times it is especially important to be compassionate towards your employees as they may have fears and insecurities about the future of their job or even the company as a whole. You can help them by being compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

Understand that fear and uncertainty are normal responses when people are threatened by change or uncertainty.

Pay attention to how you communicate with others in such phases: do you exude positive energy? Are people comfortable sharing their ideas with you? Are they willing to raise concerns or ask questions without fear of negative consequences? If not, you should make changes so that everyone feels secure in their work roles, so that they can fulfill their duties and express themselves freely without fear of negative consequences.

4. Transparent communication

It is important to communicate uncertainty with trust and transparency. Influential leaders can express uncertainty at both a personal and organizational level while navigating stressful situations. If you're leading a team facing change or uncertainty, be honest and communicate that you understand how difficult this can be. When you reassure your employees and show them that their concerns are valid, they are more likely to open up and say what they need.

Compassion enables everyone in the organization (and beyond) to grow and learn during uncertain times—ultimately leading to great success when long-term goals take center stage again and the dust of uncertainty has settled.

5. Future Plans

An important lesson to learn as a manager during uncertain times is that there will be more such times in the future. This is the cycle of business life and all the surrounding factors that affect its performance. Therefore, while navigating uncertain times today in all of the ways above, the best thing you can do is plan for the future.

However, you can prepare now and put processes and systems in place that will allow you to quickly adapt to these unknowns. Here's how you can thrive in times of change, instead of just surviving.

Inspire others and be positive

As a leader, you are a role model for the people in your organization. You can inspire others by moving forward in your own life with confidence and a positive attitude:

Be an encourager. Your positive attitude will help you encourage others to do their best and make them feel good about themselves. Make sure to commend them when they accomplish something, offer constructive criticism when needed, and give honest feedback when someone needs improvements in communication or teamwork.

Be a good listener. Listening is just as important as speaking because it helps build trust between team members, which is essential for strong relationships within an organization. So when someone suggests an idea or possible solution to a problem, make sure you listen and follow up so they know their opinion matters.

Stay calm. Your employees and stakeholders see you as a kind of compass for their attitude towards the future of your company. That's why you should always watch how you behave - if you panic, they will panic too; if you stay calm, they'll probably stay calm too.

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