I believe our reality is full of uncertainty and ambiguity. Crunch times quite often are characterised by their uncertain or ambiguous nature. What will the result be? Will we get the answer we want? What happens if the results are poor? What will they think of me? What will that mean for my job or my bonus?
Dealing with uncertainty is a leadership imperative. Providing certainty is equally so.
Imagine the following scenario happening in your favourite sports team:
Daniel has been approached by his coach, to perform the role of captain. The existing captain, Ed, is away injured during this time, and is not part of this conversation.
The role of captain involves leading the entire team.
The coach sends an email to rival teams, and governing sports associations letting them know that Daniel will be co-captain from now on and all captain related correspondence should go to him. No other information about this change is communicated by the coach.
Daniel starts performing the captain role and the members of the team are silently confused about what’s going on. They let it go on the basis that it will go back to normal when Ed gets back.
Ed returns from his injury and the coach avoids interaction with him. Daniel soon finds it awkward and challenging working around Ed and leading the team. The team don’t know who they report to, take direction from and they are becoming noticeably unsettled.
Daniel asks the coach to communicate to the team to clear things up. In anticipation, Daniel has even prepared a message for the coach to share, the intent of which is to provide clarity over the change and some insight into the context behind it.
The coach states 'I am intentionally creating uncertainty because I expect leaders to be able to work with uncertainty. But I can send that message to the team if you feel you really need me to.’
The scenario above makes no sense. It’s chaos.
Now imagine this behaviour in a work context.
Clarity is about respect.
The above case study highlights a considerable lack of respect shown by the coach to Ed, Daniel and the whole team. I do not argue that leaders need to live with uncertainty. But where certainty is possible, it is up to the leader to find and provide it.
Can you imagine the time and energy wasted with this lack of clarity in the workplace? Imagine the dollar wastage that could have been prevented if the coach had sent an email (or better yet, communicated the change in person)?
Leadership is about clearing roadblocks and helping your team navigate the critical path to success.
Isn't clarity simply a sign of respect?
What can you do today to provide clarity to your team?
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org