Managers must have resiliency and need to adapt
Q: I’m hoping 2023 is boring but I’m guessing this year will have more curve balls I don’t expect. I manage a large team for an international organization, and want to improve my leadership skills. How can I manage my team better when I feel like I’m drinking from a change firehose all the time?
A: As Warren Bennis, an American leadership expert, sagely observed, “Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.” As a leader you cannot see around corners or know the unknowable, but you can model resiliency and adaptation.
After 35 years of coaching leaders in management, I’ve noticed the hardest habit for managers to quickly grieve is the past. As humans most of us are more nostalgic than we admit. We have a tendency to keep looking backward even when the pace of change requires us to run, and so we fall and fail.
Cultivating a mantra of “that was then, this is now,” allows us to keep our eyes looking forward as we stay on our feet. We cannot model adaptation to what is coming when we keep staring back behind us.
Realize that your team is also composed of nostalgic people. Allow your subordinates to express their sadness that their jobs, industry and workplace are not what they used to be.
People more easily move into the present if they can acknowledge what they feel they’ve lost.
You should also acknowledge the “change firehose” in team meetings. Historians tell us that no generation has seen as much change in a single lifetime as we’re seeing. Thus there has never been a better time to learn resiliency and adaption as critical career skills.
Anticipation can also be a powerful tool in your management skill set. In meetings encourage your team to look at the factors you are aware of and imagine multiple scenarios that might occur. Think of anticipation as life math where there is an (x) you don’t know, but the rest of the numbers in the equation you do know.
Once your team can imagine multiple scenarios make sure you develop plan A, B, C and D. Then no matter what curve balls you get, you have done advance preparation.
The change firehose may give you a situation you could not possibly imagine but more often people deny future indicators. Leaders and employees frequently see the writing on the wall but these warnings make them nervous. Since most of us are wired to ignore what makes us anxious, we don’t use early warning signals to get ready.
To blast through anxiety, have your team imagine worst-case scenarios. Many fears your team imagines will be highly unlikely. However, if you can talk about them and plan for them the anxiety level of your team will decrease. Once your team has acknowledged their worst fears, your team can engage in creating preparedness plans for the more likely situations of 2023.
If we linger in nostalgia and pity, we end up sitting on train tracks when the train has already left the station. If we refuse to get off our old track, the next train will run us over. If we stop gazing in the direction of the past train which went by, and buy a ticket for the next train, we can transport our career many miles down the track.
The last word(s)
Q: Even at the start of this year I’m feeling unmotivated about my goals. I think about what I want to do and then get overwhelmed. Are there tricks for me to stay on the road to success when my get up and go is nowhere to be found?
A: Yes, as Will Rogers -- an American humorist from the early 20th century -- pointed out, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.” Sometimes the best we can do is one small thing every day to avoid parking our progress.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)(C)2023 Interpersonal Edge. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.