Have you ever driven into a fog bank that suddenly reared up in front of you?
You immediately slow down, gripping the steering wheel tightly. If you are traveling with someone, conversation is abruptly stopped. You switch on your lights and peer through the murk to get your bearings. You scan ahead for road markings or kerbstones. You quickly check your mirrors, hoping your rear lights are bright enough to alert any drivers behind you. The longer it goes on, the more tired you become. Your attention and concentration changes your perception of time.
It’s also likely that, at times, you have worked in a fog. Work is slower than normal, teamwork suffers, stress levels increase, you get disengaged and productivity suffers. Team-mates who see the problems looming, want more information.
In response, overwhelmed, multi-tasking managers work overtime “communicating”.
However, like driving in a fog, managers can find themselves creating messages rather than meaning, because there is no far-reaching strategic vision and direction. If you can’t see very far, everything is a struggle. In business, more information is sought when under pressure, desperately seeking meaning to the current desperation.
What has to happen is the fog must clear first before progress is made. In the fog of business disillusion, vision is required to search for meaning. Then strategy is needed to search for business advantage.
Team members expect managers to lead as well. Through the rocky waters of change, they require consistency and direction. The manager’s job is to provide a shared image of the future, generate commitment to the goals and ensure alignment of activities. Without these attributes, the fog will descend thick and fast and people will not know the direction they need to travel.
Cut through the fog of indecision by providing that guidance people require. This involves knowing the lay of the land yourself and having the vision to share in the first place.
With that vision comes confidence to determine the route ahead and support from those following, who recognise you have the character and ability to drive through the obstacles. So much depends on you as the manager during these turbulent times.
Are you equipped to take the team forward, creating the strategies and actions required to achieve your objectives? Put your lights on, and let others see the direction you are traveling. Their support will encourage you to keep moving forward.