You and I suck at action in ambiguity. Humans can handle all kinds of adversity and get through it to the other side. We give up quickly, however, when our mind thinks this thing (whatever it is) doesn’t have an end. We stop swimming from Catalina to LA on a foggy morning when we simply cannot see the shore. We ring the bell in SEAL training after the instructor continually moves the finish line in iteration after iteration. We can’t handle ambiguity, at least not for long.
So, leader, remember this when you lead your team through the inevitable transitions that come with mergers, hyper growth, unexpected loss/decline, and all kinds of other changes that seemingly come with no end in sight. You know more than your team does. You’ve been architecting the thing for months, maybe even years. It’s no big deal to you by the time it finally actually happens. Your team has not had your experience. It’s a sudden change to their sense of equilibrium. Something small but sinisterly unclear, at least to them, can shut them down. Suddenly, they lose sight of the shore and can’t manage another stroke.
Your team wants clarity. Clarity is the job of the leader. You can be dead wrong about the future and the team will forgive you. You cannot be unclear. Master ccd (clear, concise, and direct). Speak from the heart. Tell them the truth regarding the transition and take their questions. Make them ask you stuff and sit silently until they do. Bring your clarity and understand your curse of knowledge. Ambiguity is the enemy and it’s everywhere. Nothing lasts forever and nobody knows what’s going to happen next. Leaders understand this and embrace the pain and suffering that comes with their position. Leaders live in the same ambiguity as all of us. Leaders just realize they’ve got to keep swimming and believing the shoreline is still there even though they can’t see it any more than you or I. Leaders are believers. They believe the gig is out of their control and may not end when they think it will. Leaders don’t stop when clarity’s missing. Leaders admit they don’t have all the answers but confidently tell us (and show us) that this PA is what they’re doing now. Leaders productively act in ambiguity. Winston Churchill was right, leader, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Leaders act in ambiguity. What about you?
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…