How to lead in uncertainty

Author: Martin Carver

Date: 16/3/2020

In a coaching conversation this week with a client we were exploring the impact of the COVID-19 and how to manage the volatile evolving crisis.The emerging theme in how to deal with it led to us using the Primeast VUCAR© framework might help us to deal with COVID-19.


Does our vision still stand? Do we need to co-create with our people, suppliers or customers any modifications? What strategies do we need to implement to support the delivery of the Vision? How can we communication with stakeholders how we will fulfil the vision during uncertainty and volatility along with modifications for our safety or theirs? How are the values of the organisation playing out to support the vision highlighting alignment and commitment.


Where can we get insightful and reliable data on the crisis, the possible impact of the unfolding global consequences for us, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders? How do we communication with all stakeholders in a rational, informative but also expressing concern, empathy and operating from an abundance and positive growth mindset? We are all in this together! What do we need to understand to stay safe, protect ourselves and others? How can we find ways to continue our work utilising technology and minimising direct contact? We need to understand the emotional as well as the physical and financial impact of what is happening and what we can do as positive steps to minimise and eradicate the virus. These are just a few examples to explore in terms of understanding the situations, the impact and consequences to inform us and others we connect with.


What new capabilities are required for this emerging situation, how can we develop capabilities to be effective such as remote working or use of technology for on-line conferences, on the job training, customer and supplier transactions and interactions? What creative capabilities are needed for new ways of operating, leading and coping with the unknown, collaborating with partners and stakeholders to develop capabilities together. People will be looking for decisive action, contagious confidence from their colleagues and leaders, involvement and engagement. What and how do we need to learn, share and apply to become stronger, stay calm and measured but with greater resilience?


This is critical for many organisations to survive the crisis. How can we be more agile and creative in sales, production, distribution, finance, people: safety, care, management, operations as well as the more obvious systems, processes and policies. Agility requires flexibility and understanding, a positive growth mindset and being open to transformational ways to operate. We need to listen to the system not to confirm ideas but also to challenge thinking and current practices, look out for people who can teach us, be it from the factory floor, office workers and those with front line knowledge to specialist and consultants with broader industry or technical experience. We need to facilitate task force teams and project groups utilising diversity as a strength. How can we explore with Action Learning groups, utilise the concept of Theory U by letting go of preconceived ideas or limiting beliefs and be open to and sense what new opportunities can emerge, crystalize them, prototype and evolve the ideas and actions towards success with speed, agility and recognising solutions will evolve and morph in response the fast changing shifts in the organisation or indeed world.


This is vital, how can we support our people to be emotionally and physically resilient? Washing hands seems such a low tech way of helping the situation but it does have a significant impact. Consider what our hands touch in our daily lives and consider how these can be sterilised including handrails, door handles, elevator buttons, hand held equipment such as keypad that are shared with colleagues and customers. How can we emotionally and mentally support our people, keep calm and carry on! How can we develop mental toughness and resilience in handling tough and demanding situations that impact on people's lives; providing the sense of control rather than being "done to", seeing the complex challenges as opportunities, motivation and commitment to turn around challenges and achieve new agile demands and goals with confidence in abilities and to learn new skills working in new and dynamic teams or focus groups to overcome the challenges.

Whilst we tackle this global and industry wide pandemic, hopefully you may gain some insights and perspectives from this article to step forward with greater confidence, to utilise the skills and capabilities around us, grow and develop greater resilience and over the coming months become stronger to recover with speed, agility particularly with creative and adaptive leadership from all your people.

To start a conversation about your leadership development or the development opportunities your organisation faces you can email Martin directly here.

About the Author

Martin Carver

Martin Carver is a Director of Primeast. An experienced management consultant, facilitator and professional speaker based in the UK, working globally on leadership development and consulting assignments.

Martin uses his extensive , leadership, co-active coaching, team development and consultancy experience across a variety of industries and sectors. He is deeply passionate in supporting growth and learning, facilitating transformational and values-based leadership, developing people and organisations for sustainable results.

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