Many of us are feeling stuck right now. And understandably so. When it feels like a storm is raging all around you, leaders need to create hope. As Maya Angelou, an American poet and civil rights activist, once said: “Every storm runs out of rain.” But right now, we’re unsure when the rain will stop, and the sun will come out. Right now, it feels like we do not even know what will happen in the next 24 hours.
I believe that leading during times of uncertainty means:
Going back to basics: We must focus on what we need to survive right now and, where possible, to help those who need help. This might mean that you must ration your resources so that what you have lasts as long as it possibly can.
Planning for the immediate future: As leaders we are so focused on what happens in the future. But because we do not know what the path ahead looks like, we need to focus our energy on surviving tomorrow and next week and next month.
And planning for the distant future: Beyond the here and now, we need to understand that what is currently happening in South Africa will have an impact that lasts for years to come. Leaders must be aware that this will not all just go away once things have calmed down. There will be long term side effects. Leaders should prepare their teams for the tough road that lies in front of us.
So, with all of this in mind, how does one create hope?
Personally, I keep reminding myself that times of crisis have happened in the past and businesses and countries have made it out on the other side. History shows us that it is possible to survive difficult times and to thrive after doing so.
History also shows us that you cannot skimp when it comes to leadership. A group of average leaders will not be able to do anything above average. And weak leaders will falter and fail at the first sign of adversity. Right now, we need good leaders more than ever – leaders have the grit and the perseverance to knuckle down and do everything they can to make sure that those around them make it out on the other side.
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