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Leadership During Uncertain Times

CPAs & Advisors

Ali Barnes
Ali Barnes CPA, CGFM Managing Principal CPAs & Advisors

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Providing meaningful leadership during prosperous times doesn’t happen without challenges. When prosperous times fade and we are faced with uncertain times, effective leadership becomes critical to how we weather the storm. Both internal and external stakeholders rely heavily on an organization’s leadership to provide direction, ease fears and minimize the negative impact resulting from uncertainty.

While the decisions required during these times can be quite complex, providing leadership can be simple. Complicated methods or systems are not required and, often, getting back to the basics is what people want. The following are four basic action items you can implement to maintain CALM.

  1. Communicate clearly and frequently using appropriate channels. Uncertainty can lead to confusion, incorrect assumptions and actions that are not in alignment with the organization’s plan. Communication should be to the point and include direction on the action desired. Stakeholders should receive information timely enough to carry out their duties effectively. Proactively providing messaging can reduce negative talk around the water cooler, put questioning minds at ease, and mitigate reduction in morale.
  2. Ask others in the organization for their input. Find ways to include those at multiple levels of the organization. A list of ideas or concerns generated by multiple people will likely ensure better coverage of the concerns felt by a wider array of the organization. This also allows people to be heard so they can feel as though they’ve had an impact on the organization.
  3. Listen to others throughout the organization. If you’re going to take the time to ask others for their input, then take the time to truly listen. Paying attention to verbal and nonverbal communication from others is essential to read the pulse of your people. Depending on their comfort level, some employees will be quick to speak up while others will provide only nonverbal clues. Sometimes it is what people aren’t saying that matters the most.
  4. Motivate your people! Uncertainty tends to increase stress levels and demotivate people. Show you care by checking in regularly. Congratulate those who are demonstrating excellence. Let people know they are appreciated through small gestures. Picking up a person’s favorite coffee drink in the morning, giving a handwritten thank-you card or bringing in a few baked goods are all inexpensive and can go a long way to lift spirits.

Uncertain times can come in many forms and may be different for each organization. Providing effective leadership during these times impacts how organizations emerge from the storm. To increase the impact of the organization’s ultimate message, manage morale and keep the organization moving forward, keep the CALM tips in mind.

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