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Clarity when there is no certainty – leading beyond the curve

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Leaders have been charged with the task of forecasting, planning and executing during unprecedented times. Quite simply, if the world was spinning fast before COVID-19, it has now gone into warp speed.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout have created unforeseen opportunities for some and existential threats for others.

So how do leaders find clarity in uncertainty?

Collaboration complacency

In normal circumstances, collaboration is a generally beneficial process that can yield excellent outcomes.

However, endless meetings, task forces, brainstorming sessions and workshops are indulgences for firms fighting for survival or chasing opportunities in the current environment.

Amid a crisis, excessive collaboration can equal analysis paralysis as individuals pore over masses of imperfect information in an unpredictable business environment.

Excessive collaboration tends to flatten hierarchies and soften chain-of-command structures, which can shield leaders from the often unpleasant task of making tough decisions quickly.

This position is now untenable for leaders.

Leaders must step up and fill the leadership void. They must be willing to engage in ‘excessive decisiveness’.

What is excessive decisiveness?

Excessive decisiveness is about accelerating the decision-making process. That means, first, restructuring your organisation’s decision-making processes and protocols; and second, demonstrating pronounced individual leadership within a leaner decision-making framework.

Leaders must focus on four key areas: purpose, communications, strategy and deployment.

  1. Clear purpose
    Understanding your organisation’s real purpose enables you and your team to focus on fundamentals. During a crisis, your company’s mission must be defined, communicated and recognised. It is a springboard for action.
  2. Concise and practical communications
    Clear lines of communication enable leaders to know where they can get pertinent information and with whom they can share it. Lines of communication should be as direct as possible.
  3. Flexible strategies
    Closely align strategy to achievable objectives. Strategies that enable lateral movements, the ability to quickly pivot and exit points are preferable during uncertainty.
  4. Innovative deployment
    Creative deployment of resources is vital for tackling the potential scarcities and asymmetries of the COVID-19 economy. Unorthodox approaches to resource allocation might be the difference between success and failure.

Confidence, resilience and composure

Excessive decisiveness requires confidence, resilience and composure to advance on opportunities and overcome challenges without relying on the comforts of collaboration and consensus.

In testing times, finding the confidence to lead assertively and with decisiveness is not always easy.

But leaders must display courage if they are to find clarity during uncertain times.

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