4 fundamentals to lead through uncertain times

Changes are imminent, if the leader fails to embrace this change and overcome the uncertainties, he will set his team for failure.  Uncertainties can be everything that affects the business directly or indirectly, in broad it can be categorized into technological disruption/advancement, global economy, consumer behavioural shift and climate change.

There are many classic examples of leaders/organizations failing to navigate through the uncertainties. Most quoted instance is Kodak, which failed to embrace the digital revolution in 1997 and avoided making decisions to change the business models/products leading to filing bankruptcy in 2012. Another organization Blackberry failed to compete by not embracing the technological advancement (touch screens) in mobiles leading way to companies like Apple and Samsung.

On contrary there are also many successful leaders/organizations which sailed through the uncertainty by being agile and adapting to changes.  One such organization is Orsted, they diversified into green/renewable energy to cut down the gas emissions 20% set by European Union. Orstead is now providing green energy to 9.5 million people and they are set to raise the number to over 50 million by 2030.

Each uncertainty possesses unique challenges, complexities so there is no playbook for leaders to handling the uncertainties. In this article I propose 4 fundamental principle which will aid leaders in tac overcoming uncertainty.

Key to embrace the uncertainties is to first be able to predict the future, this concept coincides with one of the Chakra theory – AGYA. Proposed AGYA Framework is built on 4 core fundamentals: ANTICIPATE, GUAGE, YARDSTICK and ADAPT.

ANTICIPATE: is being vigilant, leader must keep a constant watch on the potential threats, be it geo-political or regulatory, economic changes or any fore coming technological disruption. This approach would help him unravel the unknown in early time & take measures to build in the organizational capabilities to tackle it.

This would call for a re-examination of business plans and analyzing the associated risks before the planning phase

GUAGE: is how leader should plan during crisis. When crisis hits an organization, leader should first embrace the crises and encourage the team. Further, mapping of the impact needs to be done to formulate the solution by considering previous learnings & experiences. Participation and collaboration should be at all levels through brainstorming, to discover the strongest & innovative ideas.

Here, the targets should be redefined, so as even if the scenario worsens, business is capable to smoothly sustain the crises period. Leaders should enable the team to perceive ambiguities & capture opportunistic areas. In uncertainties, they need to prioritize the focus areas to target low hanging fruits.

YARDSTICK: is driving team to success. Demonstrating self-sacrifice plays a key role to transform self-interests of team to collective interests for a greater good. Good of the group & the organization that would mutually benefit both!

Without morally uplifting the team & empowering them with capabilities, leadership cannot be transformational. Whatever goes in planning, people need a leader to guide them through a constructive feedback and create an environment of transparency and open communication.

Leaders need to invest in the workforce to equip them with the new skills required to face the new challenges.

ADAPT: is leader being agile. Leader should always be open for any changes and adapt accordingly. This is only possible when the leader is agile.

Many leaders lack the robust sensing skillsets to adapt to volatile happenings and rely more on the traditional approach of handling uncertainties. Also, they are reluctant to change or diversify out of their set or pre-defined & comforting boundaries. And thus, they fail!!

In addition to 4 fundamentals, leaders should change the leadership style according to situation. For example, in ANTICIPATE leader should exhibit visionary leadership style. Likewise, consultative, coaching and situational leadership style in GUAGE, YARDSTICK and ADAPT.

In summary putting people, processes, planning, commitments and mindset in place, leaders should make it possible to capture changes early and act decisively to overcome uncertainties.

Categories: Management

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