Over the holidays, I allowed my curiosity to scan the Internet for 2012 predictions. It seems that we are in for a big year. In fact, according to a Mayan prophecy, on December 21, 2012, the World is to come to an end…again. The good news is that apparently too, one quarter of our planet will be online so I suppose many of us will have some time to say our goodbyes before we all fade to black.
While my tongue remains firmly in cheek regarding prophesied world ending events, these thoughts give rise to the notion that there always seems to be something happening, changing, interfering with, or otherwise upsetting our equilibrium. It’s the way of the world. And, we are choosing to make our world more intricate and more accessible which renders our day-today dance both exciting and sometimes horribly stressful.
To me, all this suggests that a leader’s role, (at least one of them), is to create a platform for stability, often where none exists, because in a world of constant change and increased complexity, people need to feel anchored to something they can count on.
For some, it is as simple as knowing that in the face of the unknown, they can still be all right. For example, during the Second World War, The British Government gave the people of Britain reassurance that they can still be all right through a poster campaign that said, among other things, “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
Of course it wasn’t the only thing they did to help sustain the people but it served as a vote of confidence in the spirit and capability of the British people to stay the course and overcome the hardship, terror and uncertainty that war had foisted upon them. They, in turn, rose to the occasion finding ways to support each other; share what little resources they had and keep their upper lips proudly stiff.
Today too, we are bursting with uncertainty. We have come to know that just at the moment we begin to feel steady, things are going to change. So finding ways to create stability amid inconstancy is, in my view anyway, a primary goal for the 21st Century leader.
The question is, how? The answer is…well I’m not sure. But I have some ideas and here they are:
1. Be Purposeful
Knowing our organizational purpose is a great beginning to creating stability. After all, while change affects the way we go about fulfilling the purpose, the purpose itself, more often than not remains the same.
2. Extend the purpose beyond the confines of organizational boundaries.
Most organizations support charities or causes of some kind. Just as the causes can vary, so can the motivation for supporting them. To me though, doing good works that align with the organizational purpose helps the company grow roots and contribute to the creation of stable communities, both inside and outside corporate boundaries.
3. Keep Learning
Broadening our knowledge base creates a more stable environment. In other words, the more we know and understand the less there is to fear. So giving true value and support to learning, not just training, will build a company of people who are confident, resilient and eager to see and experience what comes around the corner
4. Be Guided by a set of strongly held values
World events, economic instability and a constant feed of both useful and useless information contribute to a dizzying existence for most people. Sometimes we just need to stop and remember what’s important and what we stand for. It’s kind of like being out in rough seas. When we can’t see the shore and the boat is tossing us around mercilessly, our values serve as the lighthouse beacon that gives us the promise of solid ground.
5. Take Blame out of the Equation
When things go wrong, and they do, it’s easy to panic. When we panic we look to place blame. Blame is the enemy of stability. It rattles people and often for the wrong reasons. Blame is not about accountability it is about passing a hot potato and making sure it lands in someone else’s lap.
Taking blame out of the organizational culture and replacing it with a more solution oriented demeanor allows more people the confidence to participate in solving problems as they arise rather than spending time looking for ways to take cover.
That’s what comes to mind for me anyway. What about you? How do you help people Keep Calm and Carry on?