6 Critical Things You Must Do to Effectively Lead During These Uncertain Times – You Are Not Powerless

The COVID-19 crisis has shaken everyone’s world. For leaders who are used to having answers, the world is even more turbulent because there are few answers and they keep changing. How do you lead in such an environment? Despite all the uncertainty, there are a few things that ARE certain and that ARE still in your control. In fact, there are six critical things you must do to ground yourself so you can effectively lead during this uncertain time.

#1 – Accept Uncertainty

Accept that it is normal for you to feel uncertain, off your “game” and off-kilter during these times. You are used to accomplishing, doing tasks, being in control and knowing what is what. Today, you are not in control. The local, state and federal governments are controlling much of what you can and cannot do. Add that to changed corporate policies and practices and you can see that much of what is happening is out of your control. Its unsettling. Its disturbing. Its new, different and totally uncomfortable. Of course you are uncertain and unsettled. That is a normal, even healthy response, to the lack of normalcy that is your current reality.

#2 – Acknowledge to Yourself That You Don’t Have to Know

Acknowledge to yourself that it is okay for you not to know right now, to not know what is happening, what is going to happen and when things will change. As a leader, you expect yourself to know or to get the knowledge when it is needed. Yet you can’t know right now. Things are changing by the hour and there is much more unknown than known. So, remove your own expectation that you know. You can’t. You don’t. And that is okay.

This acknowledgement leads to the third critical thing for you to do. Now that you have acknowledged to yourself that you don’t know, now acknowledge it to others.

#3 – Acknowledge to Others That You Don’t Know

Give yourself permission to admit vulnerability to your team and those around you. None of us have been in this situation before, so your team knows you don’t know everything. Admitting it will build trust: you are being honest, and they know it. Acknowledging your unknowing to others also reduces stress (it’s very stressful to pretend to be something you are not).

#4 – Take Care of Yourself

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Accept what you can control, let go of the rest. You can control what time you wake up and what time you go to bed. You can’t control when you’ll be able to go to a movie theater or restaurant again, but you aren’t powerless. Take a look at some of these suggestions from the CDC.

#5 – Take Care of Others

As you take care of yourself, also remember to take care of others. Reach out and connect by phone or video conference. Facebook has its place, but you need to live, real-time interaction and so do others. Be there to serve others even if it’s just a listening ear or sharing a funny story. Move from “me” to “we” and you’ll find greater satisfaction each day.

#6 – Reduce the Fear by Being Grateful

Finally, be grateful for what is good. it This will reduce the fear that you feel and see around you. In a conversation last week with other leaders, we each were able to identify several good things that are currently happening in our lives that we would like to continue beyond this crisis time. What are you grateful for today?

Doing these six critical things will help you ground yourself so you can effectively lead during this uncertain time.

Special Invitation: Join me for a specially discounted virtual program to meet with other leaders and learn how to increase your proactivity, focus, and productivity during this chaotic time filled with uncertainty and toxicity – for application now and in the future. Learn more HERE.

This article has been written by Lisa C Gregory – Chief Product Officer of People Acuity, The Interdependent Leadership Company, and co-author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living.  It has been written in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, DeAnna Murphy and Steve Jeffs.  Lisa has led teams of 2 people to teams of 242 people,reaching people on five continents. Learn more about Interdependent Leadership, People Acuity and its cutting edge virtual or live programs at www.peopleacuity.com.

A Surprising Secret to Turning COVID-19 into a Disruptive Innovation Catalyst

Hailed as the most influential business idea of the 21st century, Disruptive Innovation can create new market opportunities for you and eventually displace your market-leading competitors.  It has, in so many ways, become the Holy Grail for many companies and almost mandatory to survive in today’s economy. 

If you’re like most people, you likely wouldn’t consider the coronavirus a positive catalyst in any way related to business, let alone as a catalyst of Disruptive Innovation.  After all, innovation can’t thrive in a fear-mongering environment, and it seems that COVID-19 has certainly promoted fear.  You only need to watch the stock market’s response to it to be sure of that! 

You likely would agree that COVID-19 is most definitely a disruptor of business – but, could it also bring about meaningful innovation for you and your business?  And, if the answer to that question is yes, then how would you go about it?

The answer to both of these questions is found in a clue offered by innovation expert, Soren Kaplan, who reminds us that the first strategy needed to leap into Disruptive Innovation is to listen to yourself, not the market.  He reinforces a truth taught by Stephen Covey, who reminded us that the key to positively influencing any situation begins with Self-Leadership and proactivity.  When you reactively follow the crowd’s way of thinking, it often means you ignore your own instincts and inner wisdom.

Crowdsourcing information is a huge barrier to Disruptive Innovation – and the reactivity it causes is the first barrier that must be broken through to create new ways of thinking.  If you are a leader who has been trained to watch data patterns, and listen to the market, you may avoid wading through the uncertainty of your own unvalidated ideas and listening to your own inside voice.  Interestingly, this is where Disruptive Innovation is usually born! 

This is how COVID-19, in a very strange way, might be a catalyst to help you as a leader flip from reacting to the market, to Disruptive Innovation of the market. 

You see, every day, by its very nature, the coronavirus is producing a remarkable experiential learning laboratory.  It is inviting you to build an entirely new muscle around navigating unexpected events, inevitable failures, and a fundamental lack of control.  Ironically, these three things are all inherent to the process of creating Disruptive Innovation, and those who have no ability to navigate them will fail the innovation test even before it starts. 

If you are like most leaders, you have not been formally trained to deal with these realities.  You’ve most likely come through the leadership ranks because of your ability to create predictability and control the factors that shape your performance.  Yet, Disruptive Innovation will never spring from predictability and control!

In the end, the first Disruptive Innovation that needs to happen is to your own leadership mindsets and patterns.  Innovation cannot happen “out there” (in your business) if innovation has not first happened “in here” (inside you), and in your own mind and heart.  After all, it is not what happens to you that causes you to feel or act in certain ways or create outcomes you dislike. It is how you SEE that determines how you FEEL, what you DO, and ultimately what you GET.  This includes the kind of Disruptive Innovation that puts you in the forefront as a market leader

The real question, then, is: Will you use what’s happening today to disrupt your own reactive leadership patterns (starting with listening to yourself)?  If the answer is yes, what’s keeping you from starting today?

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, Lisa C. Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes information from their soon-to-be released book on Interdependent Leadership.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  Learn more about Interdependent Leadership and download the new Interdependent Leadership eBook – at www.peopleacuity.com.

Warning! Your Company Culture Can Destroy Your Business (Unless You Understand One Thing)

Today’s “Quit Rate” – the rate at which employees up and leave their jobs – is at an all-time high.  In fact, according to Gallup, it’s at the highest it’s been in fifteen years, and the number has been unchanged for the past eleven months.  This makes it the longest flat-line period since the government began recording this statistic nearly two decades ago. 

“What’s the biggest reason people leave?” you ask. 

If you answered, “company culture,” you would be right.[1]  People quit people.  They quit teams.  They quit bosses, and they quit organizations where toxicity is high.

Unfortunately, if you are like 83% of all individuals today, your company culture is toxic enough to create a near-business implosion.  This is evidenced not just by the “Quit Rate,” which involves employees simply up and leaving the company, but by the overall turnover rates, which includes both voluntary and involuntary turnover in an organization.  In case you were wondering, that number is sitting at 23% in North America,[2] (up from 14% in 2014).[3]

Here is some additional evidence you might want to consider.  According to a 2018 People Acuity global study of 1,800 people at all levels in the organization, 83% are functioning at moderate or high levels of toxicity:

  • So much so that the chances that people will try to proactively resolve their own situations (rather than leave) is less than 5%. 
  • The chances that they would feel in any way, shape, or form engaged in their work is less than 4%. 
  • What is equally troubling is that there is less than a 3% likelihood that people would feel any sense of belonging, loyalty, or connection to their team/organization.

If your company even remotely comes close to being among the 83% of all individuals who have concerns about toxic company culture, how long do you suppose it will be before your business becomes one of the four in ten predicted in 2018 by J.P. Morgan to fail in the coming decade?  Your company culture can create this kind of a business implosion if it is not rectified. 

Companies that understand this have gone to great lengths to create cultural excellence, knowing full well that the organization’s bottom line can never grow faster or farther than the company culture has grown.  Culture is either an inhibitor, or a multiplier, of growth. 

Evidence of this comes in the form of top-tier U.S. organizations that have won the Malcolm-Baldridge organizational excellence award.  This requires winners to have built intentional cultural excellence that is aligned to business strategy.  Those notable organizations that have sustained this alignment, winning the award twice, have seen a median revenue growth of 92%.[1]  This could be you. 


If your company even remotely comes close to being among the 83% of all individuals who have concerns about toxic company culture, how long do you suppose it will be before your business becomes one of the four in ten predicted in 2018 by J.P. Morgan to fail in the coming decade?  Your company culture can create this kind of a business implosion if it is not rectified. 

Companies that understand this have gone to great lengths to create cultural excellence, knowing full well that the organization’s bottom line can never grow faster or farther than the company culture has grown.  Culture is either an inhibitor, or a multiplier, of growth. 

Evidence of this comes in the form of top-tier U.S. organizations that have won the Malcolm-Baldridge organizational excellence award.  This requires winners to have built intentional cultural excellence that is aligned to business strategy.  Those notable organizations that have sustained this alignment, winning the award twice, have seen a median revenue growth of 92%.[1]  This could be you. 

[1] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/260564/heard-quit-rate-win-war-talent.aspx?utm_source=workplace-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WorkplaceNewsletter_July_072319&utm_content=keepyourtoptalent-CTA-5&elqTrackId=5225ea3a116f4be49d3f9ad1859f732f&elq=45c43c5f4b374437b14e42322e7ae46f&elqaid=1960&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=443

[2] https://www.imercer.com/ecommerce/articleinsights/North-American-Employee-Turnover-Trends-and-Effects

[3] https://www.worldatwork.org/workspan/articles/workplace-turnover-rates-on-the-rise

The Best Kept Leadership Secret of Our Day

In a UAE-based multi-national company, two arch-rival senior leaders found themselves in an all-out fist fight that ended only through police intervention.   One Egyptian man, typically known for his soft-spoken relationship-orientation, felt he had been pushed too far by his hard-driving, task-oriented Palestinian opposite.  Neither man cared that their inverse perspectives had the potential for bringing amazing synergistic solutions.  In the moment, all that mattered was being right and defending the only position that made sense from each of their perspective. 

In so many ways, this experience is a metaphor for one of the greatest business challenges of our day.  There is a duel of sorts that plays out every day in organizations around the globe.  It is a struggle between task and relationship orientation, and the ever-present challenge to balance these competing forces.  Neither focus is wrong or bad.  Either task or relationship orientation, without the positive synergy created through the other, will implode your business.  You’ve likely seen it with your own eyes. 

Over-Emphasis on Task or Relationship

Consider what the task-relationship imbalance looks like.  Here are some of the outcomes that will surely emerge when there is too much importance placed on one side of the equation or the other:

Too Much Task-Orientation Leads To: Too Much Relationship-Orientation Creates:
Employee exhaustion, stress, burn-outHigh toxicity and blameDeep disengagement and disconnectionPoor retention (employees who become depleted or feel under-valued leave)Diminished productivityNegative financial impact InefficiencyAll-talk-no-action syndromeFailure to hit goals in a timely wayBlame and frustration (toxicity)Turnover (high achievers who get sick of falling short of targets leave)Negative financial performance

As you study the outcomes, you can see how the task-relationship imbalance leads to frustration, depletion, poor performance, and delivering a half-hearted effort.  In a day when one in five employees leave the organization on average (see infographic below), and 91% of all Millennials expect to vacate their jobs in less than two years, business leaders must become expert at not just finding the right task-relationship balance, but learning how to multiply the unique powers associated with each.[1] 

Leaders who fail to master this balancing act between task and relationship are doomed to repeat the destructive patterns that permeate many businesses today across the globe.  This includes things like high toxicity and blame and the kind of perpetual disengagement that destroy businesses, spills over into families, and drastically hurts our economy. [2]  Learning to effectively balance task and relationship has become an urgent necessity in order to win the hearts and minds of people and succeed in this new economy.


Interdependent Leadership: The Best Kept Leadership Secret

Interdependent Leadership is defined as, “an emerging approach to leadership that evolves and completes foundational leadership competencies by redesigning the task/relationship dynamic.” It builds upon and expands the positive impact of leaders’ strategy, decision-making, execution, and influencing to increase competitive advantage, improve performance and relationships, and win the hearts and minds of people. 

Imagine that you could multiply the power of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Crucial Conversations, and Strengths-Based and Situational Leadership all at the same time.  What would it look like to see these applied and operating together?  You would see new behaviors and skills like Unconditional Curiosity replacing judgment, ICU Acknowledgement instead of blame, and Feedforward rather than demoralizing feedback.  You would see more Confident Vulnerability and measurable increases in Work Joy, Proactive Accountability, and the kind of Team Connection that ignites optimal team and organizational performance.  Interdependent leadership heals people as well as the bottom line. 

Julie Simpkins, a one-time COO for a Midwest-based healthcare company, described it like this: “The experience of growing from Independence to Interdependence has been both the most challenging and meaningful leadership leaps I have ever made.  Interdependent Leadership has transformed how I show up as a leader and our company will never be the same.” 

Truly, Interdependent Leadership is the best kept leadership secret of our day.

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  Learn more about Interdependent Leadership and download the new Interdependent Leadership eBook – at www.peopleacuity.com.

[1] Sources: Forbes, Compdata, SHRM, OC Tanner, and Deloitte.

[2] Sources: InfoPro Learning, Gallup, People Acuity, Scoro, Udemy