Leading Through Uncertainty (Part VIII – Resilience) – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: May 18, 2019

Today’s topic (Part VIII of Leading Through Uncertainty) is on the importance of Resilience.

It would not be a stretch to say that NOTHING goes according to plan.

  • The customer experience is not always exceptional
  • The product does not always deliver as advertised…sometimes it does not even show up (and blaming the delivery service does not help)
  • Competition arrives overnight from a company that was not even on the grid yesterday
  • Unexpected expenses show up at the least desirable time
  • Leaders on the team will sometimes act inconsistent with company principles
  • Mid-month, mid-quarter resource trade-offs are often difficult, painful, and need to be made quickly
  • Investors are not always encouraging and supportive of the direction of the company

Ok, enough said. When the plan starts to unravel, uncertainty can show up quickly in the hearts and minds of the team.

A critical attribute of leaders during times of uncertainty is resilience. The behaviors of leaders during times of uncertainty must go beyond the simplicity of some wall chart with the word Resilience over the top of an image of a mountain climber. There are specific behaviors that upon retrospection, would be summarized in the term resilience.  

Leaders need to deliver on two important behaviors to set an example of resilience that is worthy to follow and provides the real-world direction to lead the team to overcome times of uncertainty:

  1. Commitment to Purpose. The purpose is greater than our pain. Commitment to the purpose of the business (what we do and why does it matter) pulls leaders and teams through the difficult and uncertain time. Reinforcing, through words and actions, a strong commitment to the purpose of the business becomes the rallying cry to strengthen the team’s resolve to continue. (for more on the importance of purpose for the business please refer to Part II)
  2. Discipline to Execute the Small Tasks. Leaders must climb back into the ring and do the small daily tasks to gain some steady footing after getting what feels like the wind knock out of you from an uncertain event. Displaying the discipline and courage by doing the simple tasks like picking up the phone to call investors and customers, and walking the halls to talk with the team, when you know the conversation will be difficult, is a clear behavior that is needed. When events pull the company off the rails, displaying the courage to continue to execute on the needed, routine daily tasks of the business will set the example and build the energy necessary to dissipate anxiety during uncertain times. It will be the daily execution of the small tasks that will prepare the team to deliver on the potential shift in strategy that will return the company to a brighter future.

Just a quick side note: The behaviors to build resilience are no different on the home front for families facing a crisis. The purpose to stay together to build a strong foundation and support future generations is the enabler to overcome difficult events. The completion of small, daily tasks like cleaning the kitchen, paying bills, doing the laundry, and cutting the grass helps to control anxiety and reinforce commitments during times of an uncertain future for the family. (for more information – Pathway)

Today’s senior executives and top talent are the catalysts to help the company succeed in the long term. The behaviors they model will make or break the future of the company. Leading through uncertainty is not easy and it takes a toll on the physical and emotion health of leaders. The two behaviors outlined above will help solidify the personal resolve of leaders to remain in the fight and achieve their goals.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? 

Here are a few resources to HELP YOU:

  1. Download FREE resources, including the 4 A’s of Leadership, at www.harvesttimepartners.com
  2. Contact me. Email: david@harvesttimepartners.com (M) 269-370-9275
  3. Check out my latest book, Looking Back-What I Learned When I Left a Great Company, for helpful insights on leadership, building a great business, and winning the war on top talent.

Below are previous topics in the series Leading Through Uncertainty. I had the privilege in March to speak to a group of executives in San Francisco on this topic and I wanted to share components of my talk during this series.

Part I (Reality Check) Part II (Purpose) Part III (Guiding Principles) Part IV (Operating System) Part V (Points of View) Part VI (Stakeholders) Part VII (Communication)

David Esposito