A lot of my coaching clients are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty lately; in their businesses and in their own lives. Can you relate? I sure can.
One global business leader, George (not his real name), was telling me how he really couldn’t move ahead without a plan that he had confidence in. And he really couldn’t make such a plan because so much was unpredictable about the future.
Consequently, time was slipping by and he felt really stuck. Some of his people were starting to look for other job opportunities. He was losing hope that “things would ever settle down”. Just as one thing seemed to stabilize, new uncertainties kept popping up. What could he do?
One thing I know for sure. You can’t steer a parked car. You can turn the wheels but the car just sits there until you start the engine and begin to move.
To navigate you have to move.
If you wait for a future of “certainty” in order to move you are going to be stuck for a very long time. Nothing is certain in our interconnected world. Not now. Not ever.
Here’s the good news. In the midst of uncertainty, you can create your own clarity. Ask yourself where you want to go – and keep asking — until you get clear on your destination. Not a detailed plan on how you are going to get there. Not yet anyway. Your clarity on “where we want to go” will help you and your people get moving.
Once in motion, ask “is this next step keeping us on the path to our destination?
If the answer is “no”, turn the wheel. Navigate. Make a different choice. Get on track.
Pay close attention to your progress and the changing conditions. Install good sensing and feedback systems. Inspire and empower your team to be agile; able to quickly size up a new situation, and navigate “real-time”.
In conditions of dynamic uncertainty, no pre-planning will give you enough information to steer all the way to your destination. That only works when the territory is well-mapped and conditions are stable. Today most leaders find themselves in uncharted territory with the “weather” constantly changing. Your long-term plan is out-dated before you even begin to move.
The perfect time to move is when you’re not sure what to do next.
So take it out of park, put it into drive, and pay close attention. Keep steering.