We live in times of uncertainty and rapid change. Social and economic indicators can shift rapidly, generating tremendous global asymmetries. Client buying behaviors and expectations can be totally unpredictable. Over the past year, our people and teams have been stressed and worried about the near future, while we’ve transformed our business models and redefined our strategic plans. In short, our world has changed, and we are still adapting to a new reality that I would argue is not yet normal.
This new world demands a new type of leader — leaders who are centered in their essence, clearly connected with who they are and the deeper meaning of those around them. We need leaders who listen, who are empathic, who collaborate and who communicate in simple and human ways. They must be able to live with uncertainty and rapid change naturally and bring others on a journey of discovery to deal with current challenges and embrace solutions to future opportunities.
This new type of leader unlocks the seven keys to leadership mastery in times of uncertainty:
1. The Key To Visioning
Through visioning, you can see what others don’t. It is the ability to integrate fast-changing variables, the capacity to anticipate with your eyes closed and, above all, the desire to integrate the collective intelligence of others to see through the darkness into the light.
The leader becomes a master at painting pictures, telling stories, generating energy, provoking passions, seeing possibilities, identifying opportunities, co-habiting with uncertainty and creating dynamic environments that are adaptable.
2. The Key To Conversation
Conversations are how we connect with others. It is at the core of building relationships. And yet, we live in a fast-moving world where we no longer seem to have time to sit down and have a conversation. Through a good conversation, we seek to understand, we exchange points of view and we gain new perspectives. Conversation is the key to building mutual trust and relationships.
3. The Key To Empathic Listening
Listening is at the core of understanding. We dedicate a lifetime to learning how to read, write and speak. When do we ever learn to listen?
Listening implies understanding. Listening is not about preparing an answer, while the other speaks. It’s about genuinely wanting to understand what the other person is talking about. With empathic listening, you are listening to the words, to the energy, to the intentions of the conversation. It means seeing the world the way they see it and feeling how they feel.
4. The Key To Storytelling
We have created entire cultures through stories. Stories shift the way we feel, think and act. They break down barriers and turn bad situations around. They illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions and capture our imaginations. Stories shift our opinions, inspire us to achieve our goals and show us how to transform the world around us for the better.
Successful leaders use stories to share their passion with their teams. Through stories, you can create unique experiences for your listeners and engage with all of their senses. It’s the ideal way to share your purpose, your passions and your objectives.
5. The Key To Capturing Hearts And Minds
People think and feel, so it’s important to speak to their minds in a rational way, but also connect with their hearts with passion and emotion. Understanding your team’s expectations and their personal and professional agenda opens up a roadmap to inform your conversations and build stories that capture their hearts and minds.
Leaders have the opportunity to help those around them see through their mind’s eyes and through their heart’s eyes to build meaning and a deeper understanding around who they are and what they do. Help people build meaning by connecting the essence of being and doing with the uncertainty of the environment that surrounds them. Understanding this interdependence can define many of our conversations, interactions and relationships.
6. The Key To Shifting Energy And Commitment
In times of darkness and uncertainty, leaders need to bring light, energy and safety into the fore. Through energy and commitment, you can mobilize and engage people. There are a variety of factors involved with shifting energy and commitment: the people in the room, the process, how you engage and re-engage people’s emotions and deal with people’s multiple agendas and levels of commitment. You also have to contend with fluctuations and be able to manage energy in a sustainable way.
7. The Key To Simplicity
Simplicity — a beautiful word that by its mention alone, creates a sense of peace in the midst of uncertainty. Most of us talk about and wish for simplicity, but so often it seems hard to visualize and attain. And this is where the problem starts. Simplicity doesn’t just happen. It’s not something we talk about. In fact, without conscious effort, nothing is simple, and complexity is almost a given. We live in a world built to generate complexity. Simplicity doesn’t come naturally in a globalized, technological, asymmetrical, uncertain and fast-changing world.
Simplicity confronts us with two choices: Let ourselves be seduced by the wave of complexity, working longer hours, faster, harder and with less control. Or consciously decide to make things simple, in our businesses and in our lives, and get back to basics. It’s easy to make things complex. It’s a choice to make them simple. And this is where leaders come in to generate and inform the conversation and advocate for simplicity.
If leaders can master these seven keys, they can create the optimal levels of trust, security and clarity required for their people to navigate environments of uncertainty and rapid change.
(This article previously appeared on the Forbes Coaches Council)