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During this past year, we’ve all gone through uncertainty and the anxiety of not knowing what the future holds.

Uncertainty happens in all companies at some point. There may be new leadership coming in, or a merger happening. In some cases, people might be getting laid off due to budget cuts.

If you’re in a leadership position facing an uncertain future, you have the difficult job of leading your team through the uncertainty. There are a few things to keep in mind as you head into an uncertain future as a leader.

Leadership and Uncertainty

How to Discuss the Uncertainties of the Future With Your Employees

When you’re in a leadership role facing an uncertain future, it’s your job to make sure that you communicate openly with your team. They need to feel looked after and supported. Approaching the subject of uncertainty can be difficult. It definitely isn’t a job you want to do, but you’re the person in charge. As the leader of the team, you need to be the one to have the conversation.

Once you’ve got your team gathered, you need to discuss the specific problems that have come up in the company. Approach your team carefully and thoughtfully. Make sure you recognize that any change is difficult.

When preparing to talk to your team, think through what you’re going to say. Anticipate mixed feelings and fear. Be prepared to explain to the team what’s happening in as much detail as you are allowed. 

 

Open and honest communication is key when you’re in a leadership role facing an uncertain future.

Here are some other things to consider when discussing the uncertainties of the future with your employees:

  • Be transparent
  • Communicate hope
  • Prepare yourself for your team’s reactions
  • Make a plan for how to approach the subject
  • Stick to your strategy
  • Approach the conversation with empathy
  • Be humble
  • Make sure what you are and aren’t allowed to divulge to your team
  • Don’t sugarcoat the situation
  • Try to inspire the team
  • Be supportive

The Do's and Don'ts of Leadership

The Do’s and Don’ts of Leadership Facing an Uncertain Future

There is no rulebook when it comes to being in a leadership role with an uncertain future. But there are some clear things you should and shouldn’t do in order to alleviate anxiety and mitigate crisis amongst your team.

Do’s

Be open and honest. Invite open communication to your team and make yourself available to them. Make sure to keep them informed about what’s going on during times of uncertainty.

Prepare for your team to be scared. Be ready to give them honest but compassionate feedback and information. Approach the discussion about the uncertain future carefully and professionally.

It’s important to be empathetic as a leader always, but especially during times of uncertainty. 

Think about what you would want to hear from your boss. What would you want to see done if you were in your team’s shoes?

Recognize that your role is to teach the team how to navigate the uncertainty that feels like a crisis. Encourage your employees to work together and offer support to the team as a whole as well as individually. 

Don’ts

When you’re in a leadership role facing challenges about the future, don’t leave room for speculation. This can spread fear. Don’t keep a closed door to your team – instead, have an open door policy. 

Don’t be tight-lipped about the future or tell your team that you can’t share anything with them. As a leader, there will be things you can’t say, but there’s plenty that you can. Be open and honest with your team.

It’s important not to assume that your team is anxious. In fact, it’s important not to assume anything at all. In order to know how the team is feeling, you need to ask them. If you automatically assume they feel anxious, that might actually create anxiety that wasn’t already there.

Leadership Tips

Conveying Positivity and Strength in Times of Uncertainty 

When leadership is facing an uncertain future, it’s important to focus on the positives. Share the team’s strengths with them. Assure them that the uncertainty of the future isn’t their fault. It will be helpful for your team to know that they’re not the reason the company is going through an uncertain time. 

Focus on what positive things are happening in the company. Commend your team for handling the uncertainty well. Give them honest and clear feedback without sugarcoating.

The more you communicate and are open with the team, the more relaxed they’ll feel. Open communication will help decrease anxiety. Give your team positive feedback on how they’re handling the uncertainty. Brainstorm ways to deal with the uncertainty as a group. This will help your team feel as if they have agency and a sense of control in the situation.

How to Plan For an Uncertain Future as a Leader 

When you’re in a leadership role dealing with an uncertain future, it’s essential that you receive support too. Talk to your supervisors. Get ideas from your team. Find ways to stay grounded and focused so that you can be there for the team while also sitting with the anxiety and discomfort of uncertainty.

Be prepared for different outcomes. Come up with several scenarios based on what could happen in the future and be prepared for any of those to happen. Know what you’ll do if certain situations arise.

Talk to other people in leadership roles. These could be friends outside the company who are leaders in their own businesses or organization. Ask them how they handle uncertainty in their positions. Other people understand what it’s like to be a leader facing an uncertain future. 

Talking to them will help you feel less alone and maybe even give you ideas about how to handle the uncertainty.

Leadership and Uncertainty

Next Steps

If you’re in a leadership role facing an uncertain future and want support, we are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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