Becoming a powerful leader is challenging enough when the waters are calm. Leaders need to ensure that their entire team is rowing in the right direction, that high-quality work is being produced, and that team members receive the support they need and deserve to succeed. These are not easy tasks. Then you add external complications that make becoming a great leader even more difficult.
I am going to call the entire year of 2020 a major disruption. The good news is that where there is disruption, there are opportunities especially for us up-and-coming leaders. 2020 shook us out of complacency with existing processes and habits, leading us to question all current practices. In the times of heightened anxiety and stress, our companies did (and are still doing) our best to cope with a highly uncertain and rapidly evolving business landscape. How we were running our businesses a year ago is very different from how we are conducting business today. The change in business has created a rare opportunity for us to rise to the challenges and become the strong and inspiring leaders you have dreamed of. I ask you to reflect on how you have personally handled the chaos, the uncertainty, and the challenges. Were you a problem-starter or problem-solver for your company? Did you step up to the plate, or did you sit on the bench?
This time in life is a defining moment, and what we do matters today and for the future of our companies. Leaders are not born, they are made. Leaders are forged through crisis. During a crisis, leaders are made more powerful with bigger impacts than they are through stability or periods of great triumph. Crises are crucial for leaders and ultimately create the man and woman. Adjust your mindset to think of crises as a classroom where leaders are forced to learn, experience, grow, and change quickly through the turbulence.
My most significant revelation I learned through 2020 is to embrace uncertainty. As leaders need to be comfortable with confidently making the best decision you can at that given time with the given information. Nobody has a GPS system that tells you exactly how to navigate your team to the finish line, but you need to keep moving from point to point until you get there. Realize you may need to pivot and switch directions when you recognize there is a better path to get to your goal. Switch directions, acknowledge your mistakes, learn, and quickly move to the next point. Embrace the idea of change and work with it, rather than allowing change to make you feel powerless. Courageous leaders understand they will make mistakes along the way and learn as they go. The only thing in life we can be certain about is where we have been and what we have done in the past. Where we are going is always new and an uncertain adventure.
As a young leader, please remember that you are stronger than you know. You can do this. We will all be remembered for how we managed ourselves and others through the 2020 crisis. How will you, your team, and your organization persevere and progress? How will you emerge from these unprecedented times as a stronger leader?