How to create certainty in a volatile and complex time: leadership tips

Are you struggling to lead your team out of uncertainty? The Franchise Relationships Institute believes our current situation is best summed up by adopting an anacronym developed back in the early 1990s by the US military: VUCA.

The term refers to situations characterised by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

And today, more than ever before, franchisor leaders are facing the challenge of leading their networks in a VUCA world, FRI suggests.

So here are some best practice tips the institute has drawn from the work of two pioneering leadership researchers, Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes. The pair developed a leadership model, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, which has been the source of academic research and authored a best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge, which has sold more than two million copies.

Check out FRI’s take on what franchisor and franchisee leaders can do now…

How to create certainty using the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

1. Model the way

In the face of uncertainty, our brains do not work effectively. For instance, we find it more difficult to deal with complex problems and processes. So simplify messages and keep goals short-term and immediate. Also, modify and clarify processes to make things easy for people who may be working under difficult circumstances.

2. Inspire a vision

When there’s a lot of complexity and ambiguity, people can get lost and confused. Help them to rise above the cloud of chaos to see the bigger picture. Remind them of why your business exists and the positive impact it has on the world. If possible, link current initiatives back to your mission and vision.

3. Challenge the process

This involves consciously looking for opportunities to innovate, experiment and take risks. You might invite newer people to challenge existing processes, and explore how to do things differently. Leaders need to encourage people to play the devil’s advocate, stay open to contrary views, and control the urge to close down discussions in meetings.

4. Enable others to act

It is common for relationships to get strained during change and uncertainty, as people tend to get reactive and defensive. Leaders need to consciously generate a culture of mutual respect and deescalate situations by using a calm tone, encourage empathy, and assume good intentions from others.

5. Encourage the heart

Recognise the contributions and commitment of your people. One area in our franchisee satisfaction surveys that is often rated low is appreciation. So actively recognise the efforts and accomplishments of franchisees and staff, no matter how small. Many of your people are doing amazing work, so make them feel like heroes.

This is an extract from FRI’s Positive Relationships Update.

Check out the organisation’s popular interactive Culture of Franchising Workshop designed to boost morale and upskill support office staff  who are working under pressure.