Walk into a business planning meeting, visit a customer, look at a forecast and all we see is uncertainty on the horizon these days. Coupled with unpredictability, the sheer complexity of global business and the speed of it all, and it feels like we’re living in chaos.
Trying to figure out which way to go, it’s easy to get lost in overanalyzing everything and end up feeling stuck, overwhelmed and unable to move forward.
Yet, despite the chaos, some leaders forge ahead successfully. What are they doing differently? What’s the secret sauce?
Apply these three leadership principles for times of chaos to lead effectively in the “new normal.”
1. Focus on ideas not on resources.
It’s easy to point fingers and find excuses for why things don’t get done: budget cuts…headcount reductions…financial forecasts.
But real leadership in times like these is not about holding onto the budget you used to have, but holding onto the ideas needed to move forward. Get over the fact that budgets and resources will simply not be what they used to be.
Instead of spending so much of energy trying to figure out how to “do more with less,” redirect your conversations to finding new ideas about how to grow the business. Fresh ideas presented by an enthusiastic manager are what will determine the success of a team, not how many resources you have to throw at a problem. And many creative ideas don’t need a lot of resources – that’s why they’re good ideas!
2. Stop overthinking.
We’ve been taught to do due diligence, dig deep into data, and pour over analytics to find the one little pin in the haystack of big data that might make a difference in strategy. The importance of evidence and research have been etched into the DNA of today’s leaders.
But the reality is that all of the data in the world cannot accurately predict the future. The world is too complex, and any attempt to figure out a strategy that will guarantee success will be fruitless.
Yes, a good plan is necessary. But when you spend too much time looking at the data and ruminating on what you should do, time slips away and market conditions change. New competitors come out. Customers change their buying preferences. Colleagues are no longer motivated, or worse, have left the team for some place better.
Overthinking can lead you into a downward spiral of anxiety and self-doubt that affects not only you, but those around you as well.
3. Take action.
Develop a flexible plan and simply move forward. Taking action creates a sense of certainty in an uncertain environment as it gives you some sense of control.
You also get feedback right away. You get to know if your plan was a good one. Based on those learnings, you can adjust and continue moving. Progress, no matter how small, fuels your momentum forward, exciting everyone around you.
Leaders who inspire, motivate and encourage those around them to move forward during times of chaos can offer their team more than a chance of success – they offer a chance to learn, grow and contribute to the workplace. And that opportunity can only be fully realized when leaders stop overthinking and start moving forward.
Bob Miglani is an accomplished executive with a Fortune 50 Company in NYC where he has been for the last 21 years. He moved to the US from India in 1979 with only $75 and the desire to pursue the American dream, which as it turned out was helping his family run their Dairy Queen store while he was growing up. His latest book, Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living, was published in October 2013 and hit #2 on the Washington Post Bestseller List in November. To learn more about Bob, visit: EmbraceTheChaos.com or check out his book on Amazon.
Note from Jesse: It’s no surprise that Embrace the Chaos is a bestseller. Bob Miglani’s inspiring book shows you how to relax and enjoy the messiness of life. Join Bob, a corporate executive, as he visits relatives in his country of birth, reconciles the differences and learns to apply the deep wisdom of Indian ways. Be prepared to laugh out loud and also to pause as you consider some profound truths and new possibilities for your own life.