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  • Jill Helmer

Leading in Uncertain Times

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

I've spent my career managing large scale changes and coaching leaders in all shapes and sizes of organizations. No, I have never been through anything like we are currently experiencing, but I do have some tips from my work that may help you lead in the present, uncertain time.


1) My first tip is to take care of yourself. This is more than constant hand washing and social distancing. This is about keeping yourself as calm and centered as you can be in this complex time we are living through. There is a term from many years ago that has remained in my memory bank...it is called psychological soreness. You know how you feel the day after a really good workout...the soreness in the muscles that you didn't even remember still existed on your body? Translate that feeling to your emotions right now and you have the term psychological soreness. It is the fatigue you are feeling from the constant sorting of information coming at you, and the constant processing of what that information means for you, your family and your business. It is exhausting and it is just beginning. I encourage you now, at the beginning of a long period of psychological soreness, to find ways to recharge your muscles and your batteries.


2) Please take care of your people. I fully guarantee that there is no one reporting to you that isn't having a hard time right now. They are worried about family members who are compromised, or perhaps they are worried about themselves. They are managing the chaos of having their children at home while they try to get work done. They are worried about their immediate future and they are worried about their long term future. They are frustrated that everything they have worked so hard far might disappear right before their eyes. They need you...checking in on them, giving them clear instruction, modifying expectations where and when you can. They need you to understand that they are in unchartered territory, doing the very best that they can. If you meet them where they are at on this continuum, I know that the majority of them will give you everything they have to keep your business afloat. Because in keeping your business afloat, they are keeping their families afloat, too.


3) Over communicate. Over communicate. Did I say over communicate? In a time period when we are being flooded with information, you will be tempted to think...I don't need to tell them that, they already know. Don't fall into this trap. Don't hesitate to send one more email or schedule one more huddle call to do a quick touch base. People crave someone interpreting what is going on in these uncertain times and giving them as much clarity, as possible, on what this means to them. While you can't do this for their entire life, you can do this for their work life. Please do this and do this often. When you communicate, tell them what you know now. If you schedule a daily communication cadence during this time period, you have the luxury of saying...this is what we know today and for today this is how we will operate. People are looking for direction; provide it to them.


As we all do what we can to flatten the curve of spreading COVID-19, let's also do our best to flatten the curve of uncertainty in our organizations. I wish you the very best in leading during these uncertain times.


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