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Why leaning into ambiguity as a leader moves people forward

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The last two years has challenged the strength and character of even the most experienced leaders. And that high level of uncertainty remains. For leaders to be effective, it is essential they become comfortable with the reality of ongoing change.  

Perhaps for the first time in a long career, you are finding as a leader you are having to be reactive more than you’re being proactive. You may be experiencing regular situations where you don’t have a clear view of the path ahead. Crisis management may appear to be the new normal.  

Learning how to be positively adaptable to change is a lesson that has become more essential for everyone globally, and embracing ambiguity is a skill you can learn and share with your team.   

Take action without knowing all the details 

Not knowing all the details can have hidden benefits. Taking action and allowing the details to reveal themselves as you move forward can result in a more agile, relevant and responsive approach. It can help your team be more creative. But to take advantage of this strategy, you need to accept that mistakes are inevitable.  

Start small, act collectively and take group responsibility as a project team. Celebrate success and embrace learning opportunities.    

Anchor yourself in the now 

When the path ahead is unclear, or doesn’t fit the format you have become used to working with, it can create high levels of anxiety both for experienced leaders and their reports. But constantly worrying about the future can prevent us from making the best decisions – we end up stuck in a “Whataboutism” feedback loop, trying to anticipate various outcomes. Reject the concept of regret and embrace the moment. Anchor yourself in the details of the present and make a decision relevant to now. Modelling this strategy to your team can have great results.  

Practice saying “I Don’t Know, yet” 

It is not essentials for good leaders to have all the answers, just the tools to support their team in finding the answers. Having the confidence to admit there is more work to be done, something else you need to find out or another person who needs consulting is key to great leadership.  

Saying “I don’t know’ is a powerful management tool because it allows the creativity of your team to become the focus. Deferring to them builds confidence, and in turn helps them seek support when they are unsure, promoting future success.

Dealing with ambiguity and change is a challenge that leaders face worldwide. Our team of experts in organisational development are here to help you and your team as you navigate each step forward.  Meet our consultants here. 

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