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Embrace uncertainty

Leadership in times of uncertainty

Aug 24, 2020

Over the past three months, as a business leader, you've probably taken many important steps to determine what your and businesses' future may look like. You've decided what steps need to be taken to preserve as much capital as possible. You've been communicating with your employees, customers and communities. You've also probably assessed what re-opening your business will look like—health protocols, social distancing, working remotely and more.

In times of great adversity, business leaders should also revisit the fundamentals of their business. Each economic downturn is unique, however now is a good time to position your business, engage your stakeholders and plan for the future.

First, get back to basics and think about your mission and your vision. Should they remain the same? Make sure they are aligned not only within your organization, but what you see as the world moves forward in a new way. Think about who you serve and how you serve them. Can you serve your customers and employees in the same way as before? If not how do you need to change? Think about what is important to every team in your business and think about how to measure success moving forward.

Next, engage your stakeholders and consistently communicate with your employees and customers. This is a time of great uncertainty not only for your business but for your employees and your community. While you are focusing on your business' future, your employees are focusing on their families, homes and livelihoods.

Be transparent. Your stakeholders are looking for honesty in leadership. While times are uncertain now, the future can be bright, but only if you walk through this journey together. There needs to be a center point of communication and strength and that is you. By being open, honest and consistent, you create stability. Work with your management teams to establish what short and long-term goals look like for employee engagement, office operations, customer service and other key areas.

Last, envision what the future might hold. As a business leader, you are focused on people and metrics. Daily you are focused on your business fundamentals. You're inquiring if a product, a marketing effort or capital project's metrics will be attained. You're asking executives to predict the likelihood of success and if it will be delivered on time.

Your focus needs to be on what will happen and not only thinking about what has happened. Learn from this moment. Winston Churchill famously quoted George Santayana saying, "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Move forward and build a better tomorrow. As Zig Ziegler said, "when you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities."

Get back to basics, engage your stakeholders, be open and honest. Last look toward the future. Focus on opportunities and guide your business, employees and community toward success.

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