Are You Paralyzed Waiting for Things to be “Normal”?
I was talking to a mid-level leader in a large government agency a few weeks ago about the constant organizational reorganizations and speed of change she was experiencing.
“It’s like we are constantly changing out the engine of an airplane while it is in flight, and don’t have the option of landing to do it right,” she described her plight.
Most of the leaders I work with would resonate strongly with that description. They feel as if everything is changing so rapidly and constantly, and that it is hard to get their grounding or describe a long term vision to their teams. They are being asked to move out quickly and without much information, a clear sense of a bigger picture or a fully crystalized plan. A bias for action is heralded, as is the ability to improvise and create the plan and mobilize and motivate people to keep adapting as the information appears.
The simple truth is that many leaders aren’t comfortable or don’t feel equipped to operate without a fair degree of dependable structure, planning, and pre-defined outcomes. They become paralyzed, waiting for a bigger vision to appear so they can link into it and move their teams forward. They wait for things to become more clear, return to normal, or to be told what the bigger, longer-term plan is.
So what if there isn’t one?
What if there is a new ‘normal’?
What if the new normal is not the creation of detailed long term plans to be elegantly executed over years and years? What if it is instead setting a direction with overarching alignment, and moving out towards it with flexibility and with the ability to adapt and change as more information becomes available?
Here are three leadership realities you can count on in this new “normal”:
1. The vision of the future may not be clear or is ever-changing, so the target may just be an overall direction and overarching outcome
2. Your ability to inspire others and create momentum and alignment towards an overall direction with minimal information is paramount
3. Your leadership effectiveness is dependent on your propensity to thrive in and move forward in chaos
So what about you? Are you a leader paralyzed and waiting for more direction before you act? Are you waiting for things to settle down back to normal after a period of change and upheaval?
Is it time to stop waiting, and start leading the new ‘normal’?