Prudent Leadership in Unstructured Times

As the rapid spread of Covid – 19 has quickly eclipsed recent epidemics in size and scope the human toll and disruption to millions of lives coupled with the economic damage that is so far reaching; it is impossible to calculate now and within the next five years as what this means to the Gross National Product. In the face of these challenges and unstructured times, leaders are handcuffed as to what their organizations are to do next and what the impact will be. Attempting to maintain a sense of normality in the workplace is a good place to start.

For business leaders, the epidemic has accelerated unprecedented and unthinkable change. The health of business is linked to the health of society, the health of the workforce and the health of the planet. Shifts in our daily lives are compelling companies to adapt swiftly and creatively in unimaginable ways to operate daily and survive weekly. Worldwide uncertainty and fear has made it difficult for leaders to find their “grove” and those leaders who prefer to operate from a point of certainty and clarity are finding little if any refuge in the storm.

So, the question that weighs on the minds of leaders is; how do we move forward in these unstructured times”? Depending on your industry sector, geography and client base, companies are in varying phases in dealing with the epidemic however; all leaders are dealing with stress, anxiety and some type of human depression.

In order to leverage the moment, leaders should consider three fundamental initiatives of prudent leadership that will define successful leaders as they guide their people and themselves through these unstructured times. They are:

Lead From The HEART

HEART is an acronym for: Hear and understand your people; Even if you disagree with your people – don’t make them wrong; Acknowledge the uniqueness within your people; Remember to look for your people’s positive intentions; Tell your people the truth with compassion.

Walk a mile in their shoes. Whether you like it or not, you are now the chief empathy officer. Remember, when your people need love and understanding the most is probably when they deserve it the least. Showing humility and empathy coupled with clear, transparent and honest communication will go a long way in providing some certainty to your people and reflect your personal values and beliefs.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize

Protecting financial resources and key performance indicators from extrinsic factors while maintaining financial stability is of the utmost importance. The difference between the leadership amateur and the leadership professional is that the amateur will concentrate on buckling down, zero in on the numbers and stay frugal. The professional on the other hand will examine the landscape and determine how s/he can service the stakeholders, customers, employees and vendors in order to facilitate progress.

What this all means is that the professional leader will quickly ascertain how they can service their aforementioned constituents most effectively and stay tuned to short term decisions such as; how to maintain physical distancing in the workplace and still be productive, to long term decisions as to what will the new normal look like and how might they capitalize on their people’s ability, skill and knowledge in order to take advantage of future opportunities.  

Empower The Right People.

Empowerment is a systematic process that develops a persons self confidence and self esteem to the point that people make decisions and take intelligent risks because, they know its right and it needs to be done.

When leaders are faced with an overwhelming amount of work and decision making opportunities, humility comes to the forefront. Prudent leaders don’t feel  the need to centralize power or limit authority. They depend on team members and cross functional teams with clear mandates to make decisions and show the way.  Prudent leaders stay curious, ask great questions and share information so the decision making is as easy as possible.

In summary, every step involves choices. Some choices are tough to make in stable times, let alone unstructured times but, the same principles and actions apply. A leaders ability to understand who they are, what their beliefs are and what they value, will chart a course based on fundamental goals and emotional resilience.

About The Author.

Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Southern, Ontario, Canada. An international presenter and consultant, he is known as a leader in operations management.  Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top10 % throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG. Website at