Leading in Complex Times

Leaders continually face challenges and discover that some challenges are more complex than others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, no silver bullet, for the leadership challenges we face.

However, leaders facing these challenges learn two things: what works and what doesn’t work. The thing to remember is that what worked or didn’t work in the last challenge won’t necessarily work in the next.

Lynda Gratton is a professor of management at the London School of Business and wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review. In this article, she recognized that businesses are constantly challenged by change and crises. Lynda explained that leaders need to see what is happening from different perspectives and be able to work collaboratively with others even when they are under stress.

During a Tedx Talk, Matt Beeton described the importance of a leader to first connect and understand himself or herself before connecting with those in the organization. When a leader is able to focus on self-reflection, self-regulation, and self-perception, then that leader is able to receive feedback in a way that is constructive to the challenge at hand. Without self-regulation, a leader could take feedback as criticism and rather than incorporate the feedback, the leader may become emotional and disregard important details.

As a leader, connecting with people is necessary to create a cohesive, collaborative environment where people are able to dissect a challenge and identify solutions. While leaders may be liable for strategic decisions, they don’t have to make those decisions alone, and as Ms. Gratton points out, obtaining different perspectives or viewpoints often brings new clarification to a challenge.

Think about the challenges you face as a leader:

  • Do you try to work through challenges on your own or do you look for feedback and perspective from your peers, colleagues, and employees?
  • How often do you reflect back on your own performance as a leader and look for ways to improve your own emotional intelligence?
  • Are you able to control how challenges impact your professional – and personal – stress level?

The first step in becoming a leader who can navigate complex challenges is to develop one’s own emotional intelligence. Knowing your emotional triggers will help you skillfully navigate conversations and manage stress. When a leader is self-aware, it helps him or her to listen better, find solutions, and build relationships. Being able to accept other points of view often leads to new ways of thinking and overcoming challenges.

Leadership is more about who you are – rather than your title or what you do. In times of challenges and uncertainty people look to their leaders for purpose and passion – be that leader!

I would love to hear about your leadership journey, and let me know if you need support around the challenges you face.

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