Choppy Waters Ahead!

Choppy Waters Ahead!

Being a leader means that you will always be facing uncertainty. There are so many variables that can impact on your organization and the work that you do that it is frankly impossible to anticipate and manage all of them.

One thing is certain there will be choppy waters ahead! 

This nautical term has come into everyday speech and is commonly used to refer to an anticipation of challenging times. In contrast with Smooth Sailing Ahead, a warning about choppy waters helps you, as the leader, be prepared for what’s likely to happen.

This brings us to one of the most vexing dilemmas for leaders: 

I get that we are living in unstable times, but my people expect me to smooth things out and make it easier for them to get through this.


What’s up with this?

This is a reality of leadership. Everyone looks to you for guidance, for a sense of direction, for assurance. One of my clients expressed it like this recently Everyone comes to me to meet their needs. But no one asks what my needs are.

It can be hard to summon and communicate to your staff a sense of conviction and assurance that you will be able to weather the storm together. When you may be feeling vulnerable yourself, holding your own misgivings and concerns. 

It’s especially hard on you as a leader when you don’t know if people will go along with the changes needed to ensure you ‘stay afloat’ in the choppy waters. Or if they will do what you ask of them, allowing the organization to emerge intact and in a position to continue making a difference.

At times like this, leadership can feel challenging — and overwhelming.

And you might well be wondering if you have the skills required to lead change for your team or organization.


Core Skills of Change Leaders

Welcome to the dilemma of change leadership! It’s a familiar position in which many leaders feel some uncertainty, even whilst needing to project confidence and assurance to others.

It’s important not to ignore or suppress your feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. I have found time and again that paying attention to these feelings is the best path through change.

Feelings like these keep you humble a guard against over-confidence. 

They keep you curious a guard against arrogance. 

They keep you connected to other people a guard against trying to do it all yourself.

No two change processes will be alike. There are always unique circumstances that require you to approach each change with fresh eyes. What worked on an earlier initiative might no longer be suitable.

So each time you face “choppy waters,” you benefit from going back to core questions that will help you chart your course.

Questions To Assess

These questions can help you identify the skills you need as a change leader. You are likely to have some of these skills in abundance, while others may require some honing to be used with greater ease.


What’s Next?

Are you curious to learn more about the core skills of a change leader?

The next RCA Change Leaders Roundtable will explore the core skills of a change leader. I’m hosting it with my colleague and associate, Nancy Settle-Murphy, on Friday, May 17, 2024, starting at Noon Eastern Time.

I encourage you to join us for this conversation on the WHAT and HOW of leading change!

Are you ready to develop as a change leader?

I developed the RCA Seasons of GrowthTM framework as a guide on how change unfolds in a team or organization. I’ve helped hundreds of leaders like you develop the core skills that have enabled their success in steering through choppy waters.

Contact me to learn more about how I can support you as an individual, part of a group of peer leaders, or with your team/organization.

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