Leadership in turbulent times: Silence will be interpreted as (very) bad news, and 9 more lessons
Leadership StrategiesLeadership
Article Icon News Article
August 23, 2020
Leadership StrategiesLeadership
Leaders create other leaders who are catalysts for widespread change across leadership teams and boards.
navigating-global-businesses.jpg

Human Resources Online

​The Human Resources Online article, “Leadership in turbulent times: Silence will be interpreted as (very) bad news, and 9 more lessons​,” featured findings from our paper, "Leadership through Uncertainty." The article is excerpted below. 

Uncertain times can severely reveal the quality of an organisation’s leadership, as it is during these times that great leaders act – decisively. Their actions set an example for everyone in the organisation and stand as the difference between thriving in a crisis and suffering irreparable damage. 

In a new report, spearheaded by CEO Clarke Murphy, Russell Reynolds Associates has captured 10 enduring leadership lessons on leading through uncertain times and keeping the organisational ship moving along in such choppy waters. 

Lesson 1: Communicate, communicate, and communicate (and then communicate more)  

Uncertainty produces anxiety throughout the workforce and among customers, suppliers and investors. Silence will be interpreted as (very) bad news. It is essential to communicate (and reinforce) a clear perspective on what is happening and what it means for the organisation. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

Are your leaders communicating often even when they don’t have all the answers? 
Do your leaders demonstrate the poise and composure to reassure all stakeholders that the organisation is in safe hands? 

Lesson 2: Help others lead 

One person alone cannot lead in turbulent times. The best leaders step up at this time and help others lead - they do not retreat behind an understandable level of stress and information overload. Leaders create other leaders are catalysts for widespread change across leadership teams and boards. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

Is the next generation of leaders stepping up? 
Who is choosing to lead in these uncertain times? 
Is the current leadership asking for help across the organisation? 
Is the culture of the organisation one that allows people to lead without authority? 

Lesson 3: Plan for the long and short term 

Great leaders have the ability to devote the appropriate resources to the immediate needs of the organisation while maintaining a focus on long-term strategic goals. In the face of uncertainty, weak leaders are guided primarily by concerns over the “optics” of their decisions; strong leaders are guided by a clear view of the sacrifices required to preserve strategic direction. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

Are your leaders balancing short-term, tactical decision making with the long-term goals of the organisation? 
Are your leaders using data, rather than gut feel alone, to make decisions? 
Are your leaders considering short-term and long-term opportunities that turbulent times create, as well as managing the risks? 

Lesson 4: Focus on core values​ 

Great leaders amplify the organisation’s mission to reassure and galvanise those around them. They identify “culture champions” to set a visible example by reinforcing the culture and values that will guide the organisation through difficult periods.  

Questions to ask yourself: 

Do your leaders know which aspects of your culture will inspire people to overcome difficult situations? 
Can you identify the ‘culture champions’ in your organisation? 
How are your leaders communicating the importance of your organisation’s culture and values?​ 

To read the full article, click here.