I remember vividly the uncertain times during the economic crisis of 2008-2010. I was an executive with a large public company amidst widespread layoffs, plunging revenue, and rising panic. Questions and concerns came from everywhere, including from my own head!
At that moment, probably more than any other moment, I had to demonstrate Confidence. But how to do that, when I faced so much uncertainty myself?
The first thing I did was to project a confident demeanor. While I had my own concerns for sure, it wasn’t useful for me to wear those emotions on my sleeve. This did not mean that I put on a false front and a happy face, but it did mean that I came to terms with my own concerns prior to interacting with others (more on this in a moment).
Next, I remembered that emotions are contagious. Walking around with my head in my hands would certainly rub off on others, and eventually bring about whatever it was everyone was fearing. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
Finally, when interacting with others I acknowledged their concerns, their worries, their feelings (including my own). Denying these concerns would actually have had the effect of making them worse as they would have believed that I had no clue what was going on!
Acknowledging the concerns was so important to earning the trust and confidence from those around me. However, I did not feed into the concerns, I did not add to them. Rather I acknowledged them as real, and then talked about what we would do to get through the situation.
By taking these 3 steps, I was able to earn the confidence of those around me, and we were able to not just survive the downturn, but to thrive coming out of it.
When dealing with uncertain times, it is crucial for you to earn the confidence of your team. Work on these 3 steps so that they come naturally, and you will have taken the first step toward being the guiding light that your team needs.
It can be very isolating as a leader in uncertain times. I offer a free coaching session to those who receive my newsletter, sign up here! https://calendly.com/wade-thomas/free-coaching-session