Leading in complexity: Navigating the Unknown with Confidence
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide
Complexity of Water Droplets on Spiderweb

Whether you’re leading a team, a division, or an organisation, I’m pretty sure you think that you have to have the answers in order to 

  • be seen as a strong leader,
  • inspire trust,
  • feel that you deserve your position.

Yet in a complex environment, that belief hinders you. It diminishes your power as a leader. Leading in complexity requires a new skill set and more importantly, a new mindset.

In a complex environment you cannot have the answers

Rather than coming up with clear directives on the right way forward, what you need to do is to expand what you can see.

Granted, it can be frightening to admit that you don’t know what’s best when you’ve always shown others the way. Because leading the way might be tied to your identity. 

I’ve been asked before: “If I don’t have the answers, don’t I get both the status and the pay for being the leader while not actually contributing anything that justifies that?”

The leader’s new role

And my answer is: No, it does not. The role of the leader in a complex environment is to expand what both you and those you lead can see. To do so, you need to facilitate a process of sharing all perspectives so that everyone can see a fuller picture of what is happening around them. And based on that, you have to orchestrate the process of coming up with ideas for how to experiment the way forward into the slowly emerging and still blurry future. That’s a lot to learn! On top of that, you and your team need to remain flexible in a complex environment. Nothing is permanent. In consequence, you need to help those you lead to face by uncertainty without fear. You have a lot to give as a leader in a complex environment. Having all the answers is just not part of it.

Getting over your own fear of not having the answers, is the first step towards acquiring the skill to navigate the unknown with confidence.

Here’s a belief you could adopt, as it empowers you to you make that shift:

The system holds the answers

The system holds the answers is a core principle at Choose Leadership. We hold it up when we work with organisations that want to change “the way we do things around here”. This principle gives everyone a sense of possibility: It’s possible to collectively navigate our complex environment. Like everyone else, I need to be seen and heard for the system to reveal itself, everyone is important, we all count.

That’s engaging and motivating and creates ownership in the process of change and flux. 

Do you need to shift yourself and your organisation to this new way of leading in complexity?

Reach out to us today to explore how you can be more successful tomorrow.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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