By Stuart R. Levine
Published in, Forbes
No matter how you voted or didn’t vote this past election, it is clear that both individuals and organizations are going to be experiencing more volatility in their lives. With a new presidency approaching built upon the notion of deeper change, there are certain qualities and tools that business leaders can employ to ensure that even the most senior and successful people stay focused on achieving the results that their bosses, shareholders, patients and customers depend upon.
The following six rules for leading in volatile times will provide valuable tools that leaders can implement to regroup themselves and their teams:
1. Hostile business environments require more communication, not less.
Managing a team through new bosses, takeover threats, an economic downturn or internal reorganization are common challenges. When you run into rough or uncertain water, communication must be stepped up. People don’t listen well when they are afraid. Touching base with those who report to you is important. Leaders who are responsible for managing any transition have to be visible to strengthen their relationships with people which means staying in touch on a regularized basis.
Frequent communication creates confidence and eliminates surprises. It encourages people to continue to be productive and builds trust. In an uncertain environment, that’s the best protection one can offer. Continue to share your direction. Walk in and have a cup of coffee in someone’s office. Focus on your mission whether it be any regulatory changes that are coming or anticipated tax laws. It will bring you together and ensure focused dialogue.
2. Stay open to other viewpoints.
When someone sees things differently than you do, allow the possibility that the other person may be right. Try to foster a respectful exchange of ideas. In this heated election season, strong concerns were expressed on both sides. However, note how Obama’s strong leadership was reflected in how he shifted from a Clinton cheerleader to a constitutional officer of the United States. He appealed to people to give President-elect Trump a chance. As a very smart leader, he aimed to develop a relationship with a former antagonist to ensure a smooth transition for what he believes will be in the best interests of the country. Good leaders stay calm, clear and coherent. They don’t add to people’s anxieties.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, called for harmony after the election. He said, “Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together.” Cook stressed the company’s commitment to tolerance and diversity, being a company open to all. He encouraged people to reach out to co-workers if they are feeling anxious. Cook’s message was to draw strength from inside the company and not let the political outcomes define the culture of his company. This is an excellent example of leadership.
3. Resist taking your emotional temperature every five minutes.
When people feel under the weather, they often take their temperature. But if you’re constantly taking your temperature, it’s a signal that you may be overreacting to the symptoms or living in fear. The office is a competitive environment focused on getting results. It’s a place for self-sufficiency – not a place for taking your ’emotional temperature’ every five minutes. Stay professional and avoid professional hypochondria. Don’t bring your emotional misgivings, disappointments or anger to work. Screaming won’t keep your culture together.
4. Get comfortable with not knowing.
Leaders must live with ambiguity. Business involves constantly facing new situations, complicated problems and questions that simply have no answers. That uncertainty can drive you crazy unless you accept the fact that things aren’t always knowable. So you have to learn to be comfortable with not knowing. Get all the information you can and make a decision one way or another, which is far better than making no decision at all.
5. Seek out the “energy generators.”
The people around you dramatically affect your energy, your productivity and your capacity to learn. Use this to your advantage. Smart, motivated, productive people are like a jolt of electricity. They give you a boost. They make you feel better about yourself and perform better. They make work more fun. By contrast, negative and cynical people are an energy siphon. Spend as much time as possible with energy generators. Surrounding yourself with energy generators is the highest form of self-respect. More than any other change you can make on your own, this will transform your work life.
6. Nothing or nobody can affect you negatively.
This philosophy, “nothing or nobody can affect me negatively,” is about personal power. Others can’t alter your opinion of yourself unless you let them. Choosing not to let others affect you, will allow you to control your own destiny. Choose not to let others derail you. You need to wake up every day with the inner strength and perspective to keep a positive attitude.