Hi, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor.
In this podcast, I want to talk about how to maintain calm, morale, and confidence amid chaos and uncertainty.
Most leaders are no strangers to chaos and uncertainty, though, in the last year or so, we’ve faced uncertainty on a scale never seen before. Alongside our usual stresses and concerns, we’ve had the uncertainty around Brexit, and disruption on a huge scale caused by the pandemic.
The result has been turmoil, fear, and stress, which has impacted well-being, morale, and productivity.
As leaders, we are only human, but it is in uncertain times that we are called to bring some order to the chaos, to lead from the front, and dig deep to keep ourselves and our teams moving forward.
But where should you start?
I think a good place to start is with YOU.
The more readily you can find your own calm in chaos, the better equipped you’ll be to help others find theirs.
The first thing to do is find something that helps you feel grounded. It could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths when you feel stress building.
Next, find rituals or routines that help bring stability.
Uncertainty feels threatening, and when the brain senses a threat, that’s when you go into fight or flight mode and stress and anxiety take over. Regular rituals and routines can introduce some stability and certainty to your day which will help counteract this.
Do you always check in with your team on a Monday at 9 am?
Keep this going.
Do you always take a stroll at lunchtime?
Even when you feel like you’re too stressed out or you don’t have the time, make time.
These rituals and routines will be your anchor in uncertain times, I promise you.
Last but by no means least, you need to look after your well-being.
Stress and uncertainty deplete us mentally and physically, so make a conscious effort to look after yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated, stay active, and make restorative sleep a priority. You can’t be expected to lead others well if you aren’t in a good place yourself.
So they were some tips on how you as a leader can start with yourself when it comes to creating some calm in the chaos of uncertain times.
Now to get to the nitty-gritty.
How can you be the compass that your team follows through uncertain times and into a place of stability and hope?
First, you communicate with them, and you communicate well.
This means being open and honest, even if that’s difficult. In times of uncertainty, people need information, and if they feel you are withholding information from them or telling them what they want to hear, this will undermine your credibility as well as damage trust and morale.
If you really don’t have the answers to people’s questions, say so, and if there may be a time when you do know the answer, tell them when you expect to know. It’s about keeping people updated and in the loop to minimise the damaging effects of uncertainty.
So keeping people in the loop is essential in times of uncertainty, and this brings me to my next point.
As a leader, when you’re faced with uncertainty, you need a plan.
It certainly has to be one with plenty of contingencies, and it also has to be a plan that your team will buy into. Explain what your plan is to keep things moving forward during this time, and explain why you are making the decisions you are making.
Being transparent will gain people’s trust and it will hopefully help them feel more secure because they’ll have some sort of clue about what’s going on.
And it’s not just important that you share your plans and decisions, you need to involve people in them as well. Despite your experience and leadership skill, you don’t know everything, and by involving your team, you can gain valuable different perspectives or ideas that you might have missed out on.
If your team feels involved, it can also make them feel empowered that they have a say in what’s going on. This is important because uncertainty can make people feel powerless.
Power can also come with having a plan.
Knowing that we are agile and adaptable enough to change our plans helps. If we hit a stumbling block or if some better direction presents itself. ‘Sticking to our plan’ might bring a kind of comfort in uncertain times, but it’s far better to keep moving forward and keeping our options open rather than clinging to something that’s clearly not working.
This takes confidence, and if we find ourselves leading in difficult and uncertain times, confidence is crucial. Your team needs to know that they are being led by someone who will carve out a way forward, even if things seem impossible.
You are a rock for your team to cling to, a harbour in the storm of chaos. You need to be confident, positive, and visible to guide them to the better days that are coming.
I’ve led teams through lots of changes and uncertain times, and I know that the most important thing for you to do as a manager is to first learn to calm yourself, understand your responses and feelings, and then support your teams.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast, and I’ll see you next time.
This is The People Mentor, signing off.
Need support in managing and leading your team, book a call to see how I can assist.