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Leadercast Series – Andy Stanley

May 14, 2020

When things don’t work out as planned, many leaders find themselves feeling unprepared for the uncertainty of the future. For fact-based, strategy-oriented leaders, this can be one of the most frustrating things to have to deal with. After all, don’t we need to have all of the answers to be able to lead our people well?

As I write my second book, this idea of moving forward in times of uncertainty is top of mind. Admittedly, I have embraced uncertainty in the past, having a personality that thrives in situations where I have to think on my feet. But the crisis the world is currently going through is causing me to think differently about the way I lead and the way I encourage people in their own business endeavors. 

I love to see the way others lead their own teams in extenuating circumstances like the one we find ourselves in now. For me, Andy Stanley is one such leader, whose insight gives me a lot of clarity in leading my own team. 

Last week, Andy spoke at Leadercast about some of these leadership topics. With the event’s theme being “Positive Disruption” (a concept decided on months before the Coronavirus outbreak), his words ring true for any leader facing the difficulty of the world’s present crisis.

His talk centered around the idea that leaders should be willing to change the way they view leadership during times of disruption. It isn’t enough to simply keep doing what has worked in the past because frankly, people don’t want the same old encouragement they have always received. People need you to pivot your own style to match the severity of the situation. 

The main points of Andy Stanley’s message are incredibly timely, as we all adjust to a situation we can’t predict. 

  • Your voice is more important than your words – Whether it’s a zoom call or a phone call, it’s important that your people hear your voice and know that you care. I know I, and so many others, have been incredibly busy in this season of change, but making time for your people can and will contribute to their long term health and productivity. 
  • Your presence is more important than your presentation – Encourage your people by showing up, even if you don’t know what to say or how to say it. As an optimist, I always feel like I need to have the right words to say or the perfect message of encouragement for my team. But sometimes, all we need to do is show up and let them know we are available. 
  • Clarity is the next best thing to certainty – You might not be able to provide all the answers, but you can give practical steps and information for your people to take moving forward. I love this idea, because it’s applicable to so many people’s lives in this time. We can’t always give certainty. But you can show up and you can keep going one step at a time. 

Part of our roles as leaders is to inspire our people to never give up hope. It is also our responsibility to give them the honest, straightforward truth about a situation. When we are able to do both and give a balance of hope rooted in reality, our people will feel both comforted and prepared. 

In my opinion, one of the most moving aspects of Andy’s speech was his closing story about President Obama in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Many of you will remember this tragic day in American history when 27 people died (20 of whom were children) at an elementary school in Connecticut. After being briefed of the situation, President Obama traveled to Connecticut to meet with each of the families personally. Despite the incredibly emotional scene he walked into, he held it together and spent hours talking to and comforting each of the families affected by the incident.

That story alone leaves us with no excuse in our own leadership. We must show up for our people. We have to be present, take the time, and make an impact where we can. 

Although the times in which we find ourselves are hard, we as leaders have a unique opportunity to lead effectively, even when we don’t have all the answers. 

 

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