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Leading in Uncertain Times – Part 2: Sharpen Your Focus

Uncertainty poses enough threats without them being compounded through a lack of clarity over the organisation’s purpose, intentions, goals or objectives. In unforgiving circumstances, it is vital that the senior leadership team are crystal clear on these key aspects of your business. If you are not clear, your workforce will not be clear what you are trying to achieve. You will become reactive to events, and may require continual changes to your plan with the potential loss of momentum.

It is especially important that your senior leadership team is working together to deliver an agreed set of common goals to which each team member is fully committed. It is worth testing the relevance of your strategy to the evolving situation, and reaffirming your objectives in a free and frank discussion with your leadership team and key advisers. Any differences of opinion need to be properly aired and argued over, so that the best course of action can be confirmed.

It is critical that this information is then shared clearly and consistently with all of your people in a way that demonstrates that you have cohesion at the top. Any difference of view or expression will be quickly spotted by people who are apprehensive, and rumours will inevitably start. Negative expectations over the prospects for the business, job security, and change or restructuring will be amplified. It is a pleasure for leaders to walk the floors when the message is positive; it is a duty when the message is more challenging and people are uneasy.

In Part 3 I will address the dangers posed by the natural tendency of leaders and managers to centralise decision-making and apply excessive controls in times of uncertainty.

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