Lead Well: Promote a Sense of Urgency
Not Anxiety

Lead Well: Promote a Sense of Urgency
Not Anxiety

In these VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex Ambiguous) times, it is essential for a leader to embody a sense of urgency not anxiety in their presence. Here are some thoughts on what to do and what to avoid. Pick a few (maybe 3) from each list to work on right away.  You will see and make a difference!

A Thoughtful Response to Perceived Threats: Promoting Urgency and Innovation:

  • Recognize that you are anxious and be curious about what is causing it – Get on the Balcony to observe what is going on and your role in it
  • Lower your stress response through centering, breathing, taking a walk, etc., so you can think more clearly
  • Step back and assess the perceived threat, how real it is and what you and your team can do about it
  • Answer the questions, “What will likely happen if I/we do nothing?” and, “What is possible if we take effective action?”   Share your thinking about this with those who must act
  • Empower your team to ask questions, such as “Why?”, “What if?”, and “How?”
  • Focus on the facts, what you know and what is not known, rather than making untested assumptions or speculating about causes, motives, etc.
  • Communicate as transparently and as clearly as possible about the nature of the perceived threat, the resources available to respond, the “givens” (boundaries) within which you can operate
  • Speak with grounded optimism: Be open and candid about the real threats and challenges your team/organization faces, why you are still hopeful about the future in spite of them, and the game plan for addressing them
  • Get perspective by involving an objective outsider to help you reframe or refocus the issue
  • Take action based on your best thinking (and the best thinking of your team)

A Reactive Response to Perceived Threats: Escalating Anxiety:

  • Form a triangle to vent and to disperse your anxiety
  • Take action from an anxious place before calming yourself down so you can think more clearly
  • Blame others for the challenges you face
  • Keep procrastinating before making a decision, and insist on gathering more data
  • Look for a quick fix, rather than considering a range of options
  • Assume the perceived threat is as real and as big as it feels (without testing out your assumptions to assess if they are valid or accurate)
  • Engage in behaviors that make you feel better, but that actually perpetuate your anxiety in the long run: Drinking, skipping meals, not sleeping, pushing yourself and others harder, etc.
  • Fall back into your habitual ways of behaving when anxious (micromanaging, hiding out in your office, cutting off from others, blaming and scapegoating, stirring up conflict or avoiding it all together, etc.)

What to know more?

Jim Moyer

Jim Moyer
To learn more about self-differentiation and reducing chronic anxiety and doubt with Resilient Leadership concepts, contact Jim at jimm@resilientleadershipdevelopment.com.