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Leading in the New Reality

My colleague Adrian Newbery and I have just delivered our first webinar. It was entitled ‘Leading in the New Reality’ and explored some key facets that leaders and managers will have to consider in what the Boston Consulting Group call the ‘new now’. The webinar has received some very positive feedback; which is obviously pleasing for us.

Leading in the New Reality

Leading in the New Reality

Managing in a VUCA World

During the webinar, we explored why, as leaders, we must think about how we lead in the current and post-Covid environments. We also considered what the highly challenging new reality will look like. Our thoughts are that it will be characterised by, among other things:

  • Increased volatility
  • More uncertainty
  • Complexity of interdependencies
  • Ambiguity of meaning

While the notion of VUCA is not new, it is arguably more relevant than ever before. As leaders part of the job is to guide our teams and people through this challenging environment, taking into account their wellbeing and resilience; while not forgetting our own.

Why Trust Matters On Teams

It will also require building and sustaining a climate of trust. I would suggest that you have a look at the work by Dennis and Michelle Reina, ‘Why Trust Is Critical to Team Success‘ which highlights the 3 dimensions of trust, being:

  • Trust of character – which sets the tone for effective teamwork
  • Trust of communication – which fuels collaboration
  • Trust of capability – which allows team members to contribute by using their skills

High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety

The third element we explored was the need for psychological safety. According to Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, this is defined as:

A shared belief held by members of a team that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish you for speaking up

As Amy points out, no-one wants to appear ignorant so they don’t speak up or ask questions. No-one wants to appear incompetent so they don’t admit their weaknesses or mistakes. No-one wants to be intrusive so they don’t offer their ideas. And, finally, no-one wants to appear negative so they don’t challenge or critique the status quo.

4 Stages of Psychological Safety

If, as a leader, you want to create an environment of psychological safety you need to focus on the ‘4 Stages of Psychological Safety‘ proposed by Timothy Clark. Clark proposes the four stages as being:

  • Inclusivity safety – a basic human need to feel connected, to belong and be accepted
  • Learner safety – to feel safe to ask questions, experiment and – yes, make mistakes
  • Contributor safety – the need to feel you can make a difference and use all your available skills
  • Challenger safety – to feel safe to challenge the way things are done and the ideas of people at any level

So, as a leader in the new reality, you could begin to develop psychological safety by having discussions with your team about its contributing factors. However, while asking for peoples’ input please do not then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by shooting the messenger just because you don’t like what you hear.

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