Everyone is talking about the uncertainty of the times in which we live. I’m saying that we live with uncertainty every day. So, we should not feel like strangers to its character. Every time we set foot outside of our homes, we engage in a dance with uncertainty. May I offer here, that if we reflect on it, we will realize just how skilled many of us have become as dancers?
As humans, we seem to be most at ease with what is predictable and we prefer certainty to sustained fluidity. Not knowing where things are going to land, throws us off balance and disrupts our equilibrium. For those individuals however, who embrace “not knowing” with a sense of adventure and curiousity, uncertainty loses its sting and becomes more of an evolutionary cycle than a fearsome, pitch-black state. Interestingly, I read somewhere that interacting with uncertainty, is the art of discovery. My guess would be that this commentary may have been written by a national geographic explorer.
When we peek into the world of business, we notice two kinds of leaders, those who go boldly into the future and those who plan, cautiously, whilst waiting to see how circumstances will unfold. Of course, when an individual is overly cautious, he or she may run the risk of becoming really risk averse or imprisoned by inertia.
When we peek into the world of business, we notice two kinds of leaders, those who go boldly into the future and those who plan, cautiously, whilst waiting to see how circumstances will unfold.
Then there’s the other extreme of leadership, those individuals with sustained stout-heartedness, who develop a valiant approach to uncertainty, by being prepared for its impact. We’re familiar with the phrase, “people go where they’re looking” aren’t we? Well, I believe that bold leaders are careful about where they place their gaze. They are averse to false positives and tend to focus on brewing storms, spotting impending disruptions and potential discontinuities that can impact their businesses. This level of impact-centeredness allows for taking up a beneficial position, or taking evasive action.
Bold leaders are averse to echo chambers. They take care to ensure that they are surrounded by a community of advisors who are unafraid to disagree with a powerful voice of authority. They encourage diversity of opinion, so that decisions become transparent and are the result of robust discourse.
These leaders demonstrate fluid leadership that matches unfolding developments and shifts in the world of business. Fluid leadership makes space for new models of diversity, inclusivity, creativity and productivity, by ensuring that the workspace remains congruent with the evolving features of an equally evolving workforce.
I believe that bold leaders are careful about where they place their gaze.
So, how does all of this bold leadership serve service excellence in uncertain times? It can create an augmented environment that is clear of the usual clutter that distracts employees from being their best and doing their best for team mates and for external customers. It can create green environments where the fear of the future is removed and replaced with an overriding sense of fortitude and comfort in knowing that the business will meet and match whatever comes across its path.
Businesses are not born this emboldened, they emerge through a process of evolution, but mostly through trial, error and determined leaders who possess the will to push their businesses to be better. Over time, the emergence of a solution-centric style of getting things done, helps businesses to build up significant levels of immunity to feeling weakened by “not knowing.”
One of the greatest gifts that a leadership team can confer onto an employee community, is the gift of confidence in the business to weather the storms of uncertainty and the creation of a climate that is “fear free.”
Bold leaders are averse to echo chambers. They take care to ensure that they are surrounded by a community of advisors who are unafraid to disagree with a powerful voice of authority.
One of my most memorable service transformation interventions, involved working with an executive leader in charge of the largest division of a well-known business. This leader had created a climate that honoured respect, enquiry, questioning and worthwhile contribution amongst the employee community within the division. First and second level leaders were encouraged to embrace bold leadership practices and to ensure that the practices resulted in exceptional internal and equally exceptional customer outcomes. It was an absolute joy working with this leader to create a customer-centric division.
What was the secret to success of this intervention?
The happy collision of a “future-primed” division, a “future-ready” employee mindset and an array of customer-happiness practices.