Well the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this acronym to life :
VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) we are not having to WFH, manage ourselves and our kids’ and partners’ priorities, shop with social distancing, exercise with social distancing and try to manage the shift to a life glued to our tech devices.
I came across Kanter’s Law and thought this article could help you overcome the urge to give up, to feel sorry for yourself, or to resort to control and cautiousness.
Everything can look like failure in the middle.Kanter’s Law
The thing is that the very nature of uncertainty is that we are unsure about the potential of this undesirable event which can cause more angst than the pandemic itself. Uncertainty amplifies our emotions, where positive events can feel more positive and negative events, more negative than they actually are. We might be experiencing the ups and downs of navigating the unchartered course of a pandemic.
It is human nature to perceive information, isolated events pre-Corona that matched the levels of uncertainty you feel now. Using past experiences and the panic of the current climate to establish a feeling of being safe and “certain,” leads to over-generalisations. What makes this climate so stressful is the “shock-factor,” because none of us really saw this coming, causing us to re-evaluate all of our secure assumptions – what we thought we always knew. This might leads us down a read of questioning our ability to manage change and predict the future.
on the Mindset
Studies have shown that uncertainty can lead to low mood, a decline in mental focus, increased anxiety, higher blood pressure. The element of uncertainty that affects our confidence levels as leaders, is the threatening aspect. Uncertainty means something new is on the horizon, and that means we have less control over the outcome.
Uncertainty can be exciting, but too much for too long, can lead to negative shifts in attitude. For instance, many will become more cautious as opposed to flexible.
Some of you may still in shock, and are therefore, going through the motions with prudence and cautiousness – not taking action or not making decisions – because you don’t know how to move forward, or you think whatever you do will not make a difference.
When we are navigating the unchartered and managing the impact of something both shocking, and new – we can become paralysed by fear and anxiety. The shift of these heavily charged emotions, can lead to inertia, reducing workplace efficiency and productivity.
Uncertainty leads to
The overly cautious attitude can cause us to go with what we know. We are less open to trusting new ideas and inputs at the expense of creativity and alternative solutions.
Here are just a few behaviours you want to look out for during these times
Whilst leadership during uncertainty demands direction and clarity, it does not mean you are to take over. It is very tempting to take control of projects, major clients and make decisions on your own. This can have a serious impact because taking full responsibility simply undermines the self-belief of your team, your customers, or other stakeholders at a time when they need to be involved in the opportunities of managing change, creating sustainable income or adjusting to new ways of working, for instance.
Anxiety and Cognition has an inverse relationship which means – the more stressed you are, the less smart you think.David Rock – NeuroLeadership Institute
2. Sticking to what you know
Emotionally we are managing quite a crisis, loss of lives, loss of interaction and loss of social norms. To create a feeling of certainty, we will be compelled to go with what we already know and what works for us. We will be less open to suggestions which can be to our detriment. Crisis management requires openness to creative and alternative solutions.
Uncertainty creates a pressure to perform, to move fast and to think on-the-spot, which can be filled with excitement. On the other end of the spectrum, many can see this pressure to perform as risky and they err on the side of caution and slow down.
The most effective leader will balance emotion with rational thought, evaluate their options – which requires conversing and collaborating with others.
If you want to know more about how to navigate the unchartered circumstances of COViD19 as a leader, join me this Thursday 21st May at 13.00 BST