A map and a torch

It’s a myth that we don’t cope with change. If it were true we wouldn’t be living in cities unimaginable even 100 years ago. We wouldn’t be doing jobs that our grandparents would hardly recognise as work using tools that have been developed in the last 5, 10 or 20 years - remember work without email? without mobile devices?

What we do struggle with is uncertainty. And that makes sense if what you don’t recognise might eat you! It makes less sense when life is complicated and there is so much that we just can’t know. So what role do leaders have in changeable, complicated, uncertain workplaces?

One of the things I think leaders do is hold a map and a torch. They have a destination in mind with a broad idea of how they and their team are going to get there. And they shine a clear, bright light on the next step.

Leaders often do the big picture stuff well. They have vision statements, organisational goals, strategic plans… it’s switching on the torch that sometimes gets forgotten. Things like

  • communicating regularly to remind people where they are going and why, and to set out the next step and the one after that.
  • consulting with those affected who probably already see the problems and have some useful answers.
  • ensuring colleagues have the tools they need in their backpack to make the journey.
  • listening

Communicating, consulting, listening and responding…step by step, casting a pool of light that colleagues can step into.

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