Navigating Uncertainty: 8 Pieces of Actionable Advice for Leaders

One of the fundamentals of successful business leadership is the capacity to face forward and look ahead. But what happens when the future is no longer clear? When doubt creeps in and uncertainty hangs over your business like a dark cloud?

As business leaders, we’re taught to be future-focused and progress-driven. That’s why when uncertainty does threaten the status quo, many businesses find it difficult to navigate these choppy, turbulent waters.

Given the uncertainty businesses have endured over the past few months, we’ve pulled together actionable advice on how to cope when the future is no longer certain. From embracing short-term strategies to engaging with fellow business leaders, our guide can help you steer a course in times of change.

And to ensure we offer only actionable, proven support, we’ve enlisted the help of James Lloyd-Townshend, Chairman and CEO of Tenth Revolution, who will be sharing his experience of navigating business uncertainty.

Read on for the complete guide.

  1. Open Up New Communication Channels and Practices

If one thing can carry your business through uncertain times, its communication. Maintaining clear lines of communication, or opening up new ones, is essential to business continuity and progression, as James expands on below:

“When lockdowns began rolling out around the world, I set up a weekly call with every region of the business. It was a chance to regularly update our staff on how things were going, the measures we were taking, and it gave us all a space to unpack everything that had happened in the past seven days.

“As a leader, I appreciated everyone setting aside that time every week to come together as a business. Despite the difficult circumstances, I found it inspiring to get that opportunity to speak to everyone and see how we were supporting each other and adapting.”

Navigating difficult business times

  1. Maintain Transparency and the Human Touch

Closely related to good communication practices is the need for total business transparency in times of hardship. As a leader, you need to take your people with you, ensuring they buy-in to your response and action plan.

On this, James says: “People are much more able to deal with uncertainty if there’s transparency. Don’t pile ambiguity on ambiguity.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know everything; it’s better to show up with nothing than to stay silent. Sharing what you do know and keeping lines of communication open, so people know you’re working towards a solution and they haven’t been forgotten about, is so important. Explaining the reasoning behind difficult decisions, and stepping up to put a human face on them, makes all the difference when it comes to keeping employees engaged.”

  1. Equip Everyone with the Right Tools for Effective Remote Working

Until 2020, only the most digitally-minded enterprises had explored the merits of remote working – but this, of course, quickly changed when lockdown measures were enforced.

Unlocking the power of remote working has, for many businesses, been one of the few plus points to come out of this turbulent year. Now, in periods of uncertainty, these new, flexible ways of working will serve businesses well in coping with uncertainty – ensuring that everyone has the tools, resources and workflows to keep the business moving forward.

  1. Draw Up a Feasible Contingency Plan

Hindsight is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be relied upon. While many business leaders will have learnt hard lessons in 2020, others could have coped far better had they a contingency plan in place.

Contingency planning can easily be put on the backburner in favour of business progression. But if this year has taught us anything, it’s that businesses big and small should always need to be prepared for the worst.

Leading a business through change

At its most basic, drawing up a contingency plan is a case of taking your business’ worst-case scenarios and outlining how to move through them. This should be a physical document, accessible to all to ensure complete transparency and effectiveness.

  1. Embrace Short-Term ‘Sprint’ Strategies

Planning ahead in times of uncertainty can feel like an intangible uphill struggle. That’s why, rather than focusing on unachievable long-term goals, it’s better to focus your attention on the things you can improve in the present.

What strategies and improvements can you make today that will make the difference tomorrow? Think in terms of short-term ‘sprints’, whereby you don’t devote too much time to one task, but cover a lot of ground – enhancing areas of your business which may have fallen by the wayside.

  1. Network and Engage with Other Business Professionals

Business leaders struggling through uncertain times can easily feel isolated – but you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, the saving grace of 2020 is that everyone has been in it together, offering support and encouragement to colleagues, customers, clients, and everyone in between.

If you find yourself thrust into uncertainty, take solace in the fact that there are others out there in a similar position. Reach out to your network and contacts and share your experience with others. At worst, it will provide a platform to vent your frustration, and at best, you could receive some invaluable advice and feedback in return.

  1. Be Honest and Transparent with Your Customers and Clients

We’ve touched on the need for total transparency with colleagues and employees, but the same sentiment extends to your customers, clients and partners too. Smoke-screening your situation will only make things worst; it’s far better to take an honest line and keep all stakeholders in the loop on how your business is faring.

Working through change

  1. Explore Workflow Efficiencies

Rather than focusing on external factors you can’t control, exploring ways to streamline internal workflows and processes is a far better use of your time. Ask yourself: how can I improve current systems and ways of working to speed up recovery and bolster cashflow?

One of the most effective ways to uncover efficiencies in your business is to embrace ERP technology. Unifying systems and processes, the software is designed to streamline your operation – freeing up time, money and resources that can help your business get back to clean bill of health.

We hope this guide helps you when times are tough, empowering you to make positive change within your business. At JS3 Global, our ERP software specialists are here to help your business thrive, whatever the outlook. For more information about our services and offering, visit the homepage or call us today on +44(0)161 503 0866.