This week I was reading an article in Harvard Business Review called 6 Strategies for Leading Through Uncertainty. One of the strategies really hit home for me and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.
One of the strategies discussed by the author is the to resist oversimplifications and quick conclusions. Wow! This certainly is timely advice with all that is occurring in society today.
Leaders often have a bias for action. And most of the time that is a good thing. We need leaders who are able to make decisions – quickly and appropriately. In fact, it is our belief that a default to postponing or even avoiding decisions is detrimental to the agency, the agency members, and the agency mission. Leaders need to be able to make decisions.
This strength, however, can become a weakness. In the climate that we are currently facing, there is tremendous pressure on leaders to do something, anything for that matter, when something questionable or controversial occurs. The problem is that many jump to do something – often with incomplete facts and information.
There also is a tendency for many that we serve to oversimplify the actions of our people. According to the article this desire for simplification actually stems from a desire for a sense of security. So, it’s understandable why they seek this. But leaders cannot fall into this trap. Oversimplifying can cause the leader to fully understand the scope of an incident. To fully comprehend the myriad of issues that were occurring simultaneously.
Leaders should take action – especially when the incident they are responding to hits the news or is significant in nature. But leaders should also remember that gathering facts and conducting an investigation IS taking action. It may not be the last action that is needed, but it is taking action.
When you’re taking the needed action, be sure to avoid oversimplifying things. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the totality of the circumstances before taking the final action. Our people deserve this type of leadership – courageous leadership.