How to be a Leader

Who Inspires During Uncertain Times

Tips on how to be a leader who inspires and keeps people on track when the future is uncertain

Is your team stalling due to an uncertain future? Jumpstart them with the 3Cs - Challenge, Connect, Clout

Whether it is the economy causing it, or some other reason, lots of businesses go through tough times. And, often when the future is uncertain teams and leaders tend to freeze. A feeling of futility and 'why botheritis' can actually cause what you are fearing to come about.

It is in times of uncertainty that you need to be a leader who keeps your people inspired and engaged. Get this right and you will protect not only your future, but that of your team members and your organization.

This team was potentially going to lose 50% of their team

A while ago, I worked with a team who were going through an extremely unsettling time. An announcement was made that, in about 18 months, they were potentially (underscore the word, potentially here!) to lose about 50% of their team, due to outsourcing.

News like this is likely to take the wind out of the sails of even the hardiest of individuals and teams.

A few months after the announcement was made, I was working with one of their leaders who commented, "I haven't been doing any performance planning, development and coaching with my team. Everyone is pretty flat and the goals we set six months ago, seem a bit pointless now" ~ Ouch!

This leader's thinking was something along the lines of, "If we are likely not to be here in 12 months why bother putting development plans in place for my team members and keep them engaged."

When the future is bleak, it can be hard to be inspiring.

You are likely to be feeling quite vulnerable yourself. Potentially your neck is on the chopping block as much as everyone else. However, it is in these bleak times that it is essential that you remind yourself why you stepped into a leadership role.

When you're feeling vulnerable yourself ... it can be hard to be inspiring.

In bleak times it is essential to remind yourself why you stepped into a leadership role

What you do today, dictates your tomorrow

As a leader, what impact do you aspire to have?

If your vision of the impact you want to have, is along the lines of bringing out the best in yourself and others ... then you need to do this regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in.

And yes, when the future is uncertain it is hard to be fully in the present ... you are more likely to be worrying more about the future.

You need to get yourself and your people focused on what you can do today that will have a positive impact on your future. 

If you take it seriously that your role as a leader is to inspire yourself and others to sail close to your potential, then pull on your bootstraps and re-engage yourself and your team.

The test of your leadership is in the bad times ... how well you rise above yourself and use all 4Bs of high-performance: Believing, Belonging, Behaving and Bottom-line

The 4Bs framework gives you guidance 

When times are tough the 4Bs framework continues to give you the foundation to keep yourself and your people on track.


  • Believing:  In themselves and their future
  • Belonging: Knowing someone cares
  • Behaving: Using the actions and mindsets of a person who is creating a strong future
  • Bottom-line: Delivering the results that makes others sit up and take notice

Sometimes to fulfill your promise as a leader you have to slap on your 'happy' mask!

The amazing thing is, is that if you look for reasons to be hopeful, to inspire people to look for opportunities now and into the future, you'll shift not only your own energy, but the energy of the people around you. 

So what can you do to keep people engaged and focused on positively impacting today, so they positively impact their tomorrows?

Here's how to inspire performance in a demoralized team

Throughout life, three hungers drive every individual. And these hungers need to be continuously fed (regardless of whether you are going through tough times or not).

  • 1
    The need to be Challenged
  • 2
    The need to Connect with others and feel that you matter
  • 3
    The need to have Clout

If you can feed these three hungers (for yourself and your team), you'll inspire and engage ... even with a murky future hanging over your head

As I said to that leader, who was deeply entrenched in the pond of 'why botheritis' ...

"Worry is negative goal setting!

"Even if the worst scenario comes to pass, and you find yourself looking for a new job: Wouldn't it be far more powerful if you were able to tell future employers that you kept your team engaged and kicking goals right through to the end? Wouldn't that make you a far more powerful candidate?

Worry is negative goal setting

What a gift to your team members to help them hold their heads high. Help them to feel that they have the power to face whatever is coming up because they are achievers ... that they didn't walk the losers limp - even in a tough time.

Be a leader who provides hope for a powerful future ... no matter the current circumstances

If you and your team are slogging through uncertain times, then make sure you can answer each of these with a nice fat YES:

  • 1
    Each person is working on meaningful and challenging projects/goals that they have a 60%+ chance of achieving
  • 2
    Each person feels someone cares about them (which should be you their direct leader)
  • 3
    Each person feels they have control over what they do and how they do it.

Here's What You Need to do

  • 1
    Be willing to have robust conversations with your team members who might want to stay in victim mode. Help them to see that their future success will very much depend upon the attitude and resilience they call upon during this tumultuous time. If don't already do them, get going on one-on-one coaching conversations with your team
  • 2
    Help your people to see that setting challenging goals, keeping up relationships and taking control over their work, will keep them in the right frame of mind. It is helping them to be the type of person that others will want on their team in the future.
  • 3
    Take the time to set meaningful and challenging goals with yourself and your team members. These goals should be a combination of personal, professional and organizational
  • 4
    Take time to have campfire meetings at the end of each day. Where you are coming together and discussing
  • the successes,
  • the challenges confronted,
  • what you learned about yourself and others,
  • what you plan to do differently tomorrow.
  • 5
    Clear the way so that your people have the autonomy and authority to make decisions and get things done on their projects.

The trick is to become a barrier buster, rather than a morale buster!

Even when you are unsure what might unfold in the future, take this opportunity to be a leader who lives, loves and leads remarkably. Instead of viewing it as a tough time to get through, see it as an opportunity to hone your leadership, resilience and inspirational skills.

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