Thursday, 3 November 2011

Knowing what to do when you don't know what to do

As a leader, do you know what to do when you don't know what to do?

As leaders, we have a significant role to play in leading our organizations especially when challenging situations emerge.  People look to you for direction, for comfort, for reassurance, and for strength.  This can be incredibly difficult if you aren't feeling completely in control of the situation or if you feel you might not have the skills you need to navigate something really challenging.  Nonetheless, your staff are watching you and what they are seeing is important. 

We don't usually get warning about challenging situations in the workplace.  Things happen.  As leaders, we need to be able to respond to the 'things' that happen.  A great phrase to keep in mind is: I know what to do when I don't know what to do. In other words, when these challenging situations arise, I know that I need to develop a response.  I know I need to communicate with everyone affected.  I know I may need to seek help or support from others.  Your staff will watch you especially closely in such situations.  Knowing what to do when you don't know what do - that is, developing a response, communicating, and drawing on outside knowledge and skill - will demonstrate that you are managing the situation in the best way possible.  This is reassuring to your staff.  They can't attend to their work if they're worried about what's going on.  By being prepared to handle challenging situations at a moment's notice, you ensure that your staff can keep their focus on the important work they do and not channel their energies into a focus on what's going wrong.

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