Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Leading in Times of Uncertainty

Volume: November 2021

 “Times of uncertainly are filled with opportunity.”

-Doug Van Dyke
From a leadership perspective, uncertainty can manifest in the form of micromanaging direct reports and procrastinating on important tasks. Both are counterproductive and can crush workplace morale. The disruptions caused by uncertainty are rooted in the way we humans are wired. From a survival or flight-or-fight perspective, our brains hate uncertainty. Yet survive and thrive we must. If your work world is brimming with uncertainty and you want to drive your organization to success, you may want to consider the following three strategies.  
  1. Empower Others While Providing Guardrails. Leadership is a difficult balancing act of delegating and managing simultaneously. Yes, leaders need to provide appropriate direction. Leaders also need to be hands-off so that their team can accomplish necessary outcomes. In the process, the leader will free up valuable time that will allow them to focus on strategy and more complicated tasks.
  2. Use Priorities to Focus and Praise to Propel. Past studies have shown that fewer than 40% of Fortune 500 Board of Director members can accurately state the top priorities of their organizations. In other words, it is very difficult to have broad alignment and clarity of organizational priorities. Use priority communication tools to share goals and to get your team aligned with those goals. As your team executes goals, lavish praise on them. According to a Corporate Executive Board study, effective feedback can lead to a 35% increase in team member performance. Do not be too busy to share feedback. It is an integral skill for leaders to leverage while they inspire others.
  3. Encourage Others to Take Care of Themselves. One of the more frequent comments I am hearing from leaders is how burned out their people are. It’s understandable based on the stresses and strains of the Covid era. During stressful times it is easy to lose focus on the individual basic needs of sleep, hydration, nutrition and exercise. The number one contributor to good mental health is a restful night’s sleep. Demand that your team members get the number of hours of sleep they need, AND that it is restful. Encourage them to drink water, which helps with brain health. Exercise helps to reduce stress, and eating nutritious foods provides the right fuel for stamina. Satisfying these basic needs are the core elements that enable team members to best deal with stress, anxiety and uncertainty
  4. Bottom Line: Out of chaos comes clarity. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable in retrospect.” Years from now we will look back at these times and the best paths forward will shine quite clearly. Whether we lead our organizations down the optimal path is to be determined. However, by making decisions and taking action, you will keep your organization moving forward. The odds are good your team will emerge from uncertainty years ahead of the competition.  
    Until next time, be well.
    Doug Van Dyke is an executive coach, leadership development expert, teambuilder, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching, strategic planning, or to have Doug speak at your next event, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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