Leaders don’t have all the answers. Not shocking news to you, right? However, it can be hard to accept this as a leader. You feel the weight of the responsibility you have to customers, employees, and the community. They are looking to you for guidance.
Your ability to stay calm, be confident, and clearly communicate during adversity is critical.
Calm means you don’t overreact. We overreact when we let our emotions cloud our decision making. Our emotions are triggered by uncertainty and driven by fear. We can regain control by what we choose to focus on.
You can focus on things outside of your control which will increase your fear and stress. Or you can choose to focus on things inside of your control. You can control your reaction. You get to control what happens today and how you’re positioned for the future.
Confidence comes with experience and we get to build on it each time we stretch ourselves. When was the last time you felt challenged and questioned your ability to do something? How did you respond? Did you give up or find someone else to do it for you? Or did you dig your heels in and resolve to push yourself?
If you’ve overcome previous challenges then you have the ability to overcome new challenges too. This is why I encourage doing the work instead of looking for shortcuts. The hard work provides the lessons we need to strengthen our skills and build our confidence.
Building Team’s Confidence
Creating a plan provides focus and clarity in the midst of uncertainty. Ask your team what challenges and opportunities they see within the current situation. Then work together to create a plan with each person having responsibility for a part of the plan. This encourages team buy-in and bonding when everyone is working together to create a solution.
When you have a clear plan then you can put one foot in front of the other. Each step taken forward is a boost of confidence for you and your team.
Be clear about the problem you are facing. Don’t sugar coat it. Respecting people means you trust they can handle the truth. If you feel the need to sugar coat it, ask yourself what you’re afraid of and then work to remove the fear.
You can be positive and optimistic about the future without providing false hope. Stick to facts. Don’t say something you can’t guarantee.
You can be transparent without oversharing. My recommendation is to share what is manageable and relevant. What does your customer or team need to know to make an informed decision? Oversharing can lead to overwhelm and confusion.
- A customer doesn’t need to know what your business is doing internally, but they do care what you’re doing to serve them well.
- Your team doesn’t need to know your budget, but they do care about how the company and their job may be impacted.
- Share the perimeters or restraints on a situation within means. For example, you can say “X is a big expense, what are ways we can save money?” without sharing actual budget numbers.
Your customers, team, and community need your ability to show up and lead now more than ever. Staying calm, being confident, and communicating clearly will help you navigate the challenges we face today and tomorrow.
As a leader, what other challenges arise when leading people through adversity?