Unscripted Blog


We're not in Kansas anymore: Lead in times of UnCertainty

Dec 02 2016

We're not in Kansas anymore: Lead in times of UnCertainty


The world just got a little more UnCertain.

The one thing we can say for sure about Trump as President is that it definitely represents change. And change represents uncertainty.

We certainly do not have a script for this.

The pace of change, even prior to the election, was already fast and accelerating and that meant that we needed to behave differently. We could not follow an old script because the rules had changed.

Our current environment represents uncharted territory. We really have no means of knowing or predicting what will come next. At work in these uncertain times it means that you need to be able to strike balance between rules & structure that can guide behaviour and decision making with the flexibility required in order to be able to shift, pivot and adjust as needed.

As a leader this means that you cannot be expected to have all the answers – how could you? We don’t have a script for this, this has never happened before.

Leading in times of change and uncertainty requires a leader who will be willing to Lead UnScripted, to go off the plans of the past that are no longer working and be willing to take risks, willing to trust those that work with and for them and to be vulnerable and have the courage to admit they do not have all the answers.

The uncertainty we are talking about is not in the statistical sense, its not about probability or data accuracy. It is the feeling of UnCertainty. When you are not sure what is going to happen and it can feel uncomfortable for many, even paralyzing.

I practice and preach the principles of Improv in my work and life, and it is these principles that can help us manage uncertainty. If you’ve ever seen any improv (and if you haven’t you must) it starts from only a suggestion of something – we call this an offer and it builds from there. As an improviser you must accept all offers that are brought into a scene – that is the challenge and the simple beauty of improv. You don’t have to have all the answers; you can not plan in advance what will happen nor can you predict what offers you will receive. By simply being in the moment and hearing the offers you can create opportunities.

Everything that happens at work (and in life) is an offer and it is your job to accept it. You don’t have to like it or agree with it but you do have to accept it if you want to remain in that scene, if you want for you and your organization to remain relevant. The trick is to be in the moment and not insisting on sticking to the scripts of the past so tightly that you can’t recognize the offers as they appear. There could be offers for new clients or markets that you hadn’t considered, for new products or services you don’t already produce, or for growth opportunities that you hadn’t realized existed.

By recognizing that you can’t (and shouldn’t) control everything, by being present and open to the offers you will be able to manage through uncertainty and embrace change as it represents opportunity. Not all offers are necessarily first viewed as positive or what you would have wished for but the positive outcome of unwanted offers is that it compels us to do things differently. It may feel uncomfortable but if we can get good at it we will start feeling comfortable being uncomfortable because we recognize it represents opportunity.

By Leading UnScripted we can not only adapt to change but we can take advantage of it and in doing so, feel a little more comfortable in times of UnCertainty.

In the words of REM “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)”

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