Posted on 20th January 2021 at 11:59
Leading in Uncertainty.
Understatement of the century.
Uncertainty? Yes. Plenty of that going on right now.
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Do you think that the pandemic would have stopped any uncertainty in our lives? That’s right – it wouldn’t…. but it’s not helped! 2020 will definitely be a year that ensured that we all knew the true meaning of the word ‘uncertainty’ but I hope that we are also able to begin to recognise how we manage ‘uncertainty’ in ways that does not consume us or inhibit our ability to move forward! ‘Paralysis by analysis’ is the phrase that comes to mind!
I started the year as an employed person and I have ended the year as a self employed person. I have been employed for twenty nine years in the same sector – education – with a couple of ‘intentional breaks’ – so this has meant that I have had to be at a particular place at a particular place doing selected activities, displaying specific skills, mixing with a range of people, sometimes collaborating with people that I have known well or not so well, leading others or working alone. The journey that took me from employed to self employed is an interesting one. I won’t give you the whole story right now – but what I would like to do is to highlight some key milestones on my evolving journey – and, more importantly, how I may be able to help you! Read on, dear reader!
We are all leaders. We don’t necessarily have to have the title to be a leader. The fact that you make choices everyday, independently, means that this title is YOURS. YOU have made decisions that have brought you to where you are now. Some of the decisions that you make impact others, to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes we make decisions that are instantaneous, sometimes they are considered and have been well thought out – but we all need to be able to craft some of our key decisions and turn them from thoughts and ideas into a concept and into reality. Having a vision, based on the decisions and concepts that you wish to turn into reality, and remaining focused on achieving it, even when things are difficult and you need to get others to understand your vision, is not easy.
This is where I found myself in May 2020. I had recently taken up a new headship post but it was not panning out the way that I had hoped. The lockdown (the first) was underway and I was asking serious questions internally about whether this was the correct pathway for me. Decisions had to be made, and relatively quickly. I could:
• stay in a role that I instinctively felt was not going to enable me to be at my best OR
• leave the role and effectively walk into uncertain and unknown territory – effectively making myself unemployed
I chose the latter. I felt that I made the right decision at the right time – but I won’t lie. I had ABSOLUTELY no idea of what I was going to do. I sought advice from a few trusted people and started to think about the ‘what if’ factor – but more on the thought processes of:
• What if I make a success of working for myself?
• What if I achieve my dreams?
• What if I add real value to others through being of service to others?
Even though I felt fearful, I had had previous difficult situations that had given me the experience and skills to ‘work through’ what was going to be a bumpy ride – but to be honest, I felt that the whole world was in unchartered waters, so this was probably the best time to take a calculated risk! It enabled me to be creative – doing things a different way; I could also be robust in my thinking – working out ALL possibilities and following up so that as far as possible, there were no surprises (!); and because I was now working at my own pace, I had versatility – there were certain aspects of creating my offer that I could take my time with and some aspects that I needed to do relatively quickly. I could take my time.
This Zen saying is one that I have as a fridge magnet and I remember buying it in a shop during 2008. It seemed clever to me but I was unaware of how true it was. I have, over the years, lived out and lived through this saying. By stepping out, it enabled me to see the ‘what if’ – and to quieten the doubts. Don’t get me wrong – they are there….but if you don’t feel it then how can you be it? If you don’t intend to arrive, where are you going?
My decision to leave my employment was, initially, driven by an instinct. I had journeyed through turbulent waters in my previous employment and the experience I had endured led me to think differently. I became more determined and showed how I could remain focused. Strategic intent? Mmm – yes – to not be employed! Unifying purpose? Yes – I became more intentional as I began to carve out my ‘why’ – the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ followed as I assessed what I could offer.
This has led me to become a Resilient Leaders Elements consultant where I have learned about the language of leadership and how to apply it to my career and indeed my life. One of the main game changers of my accreditation journey was understanding that the Elements split into two main concepts:
‘Who I Am’ AND ‘What I Do’
Focusing upon these concepts enabled me to really think about me. Not me, the ex-head of school, but ME. Audrey. Sounds simple but it’s complex. Trust me.
Resilient Leaders Elements aims to make world-class leadership development available to all. RLE believes that anyone can be a resilient leader when they are confident in who they are and what they do.
Transformational impact enables resilience.
We need to be resilient during these unprecedented times and the RLE framework enables you to develop the skills to develop and sustain your resilience.
If you want to know more about how you can ‘Lead In Uncertainty’ – and remember, you don’t have to have the title of ‘leader’ to join the course.
And if you want to know more about my story….. join me virtually on Friday 22nd January 2021 at 0900 GMT for a FREE taster group coaching session where I, with my co-presenter and fellow RLE Consultant Hannah Wilson, will talk further about how RLE helped us and how it can help you lead in uncertainty. See you there!
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