Leading through adversity

By Anita Jaynes on 26 March, 2020

Ben Chappell, Director of People Performance at Bath-based Circle Consulting gives his advice for leading through difficult times.

Ben Chappell, Circle Consulting

When times are tough and the world becomes an even more ambiguous and uncertain place than it was before, what do teams and businesses need that gives them the best chance of coming through in one piece?

During a career as an Officer in the Royal Marines, my role was to lead teams in unfamiliar, complex and often rapidly changing environments. After this I joined an award-winning people performance consultancy and was able to see just how the biggest and most successful businesses lead through change and difficult times. Winning organisations, whether in business or the military, share certain characteristics, the variables that separate high performing and resilient organisations from the rest. In times like this, these become especially important as some businesses adopt new ways of working and find themselves in a sharp change curve.

Here are just two, but probably the most crucial:

Information and Communication

Too often we have heard or seen of organisations not communicating effectively, or at all, with their people during difficult times. Ambiguity and uncertainty breed anxiety and mistrust, but by involving and informing your people as much as possible at every opportunity you can build and maintain trust. Careful consideration of key information and messages, how they are communicated and involving people in the processes can go a long way towards mitigating the emotional reaction to uncertainty. Don’t keep people in the dark.

Empower Others

A common misconception of military leadership is the ‘tell-do’ image of soldiers being ordered around and micromanaged. Far from it. If anyone has seen the YouTube video ‘Greatness’ by David Marquet, you will have seen how, by providing clarity of direction and information, leaders can devolve a huge amount of responsibility to others. This might be incredibly uncomfortable, but the result will be self-motivated, freethinking and proactive teams. Leaders need to let go a bit and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

High performing and resilient organisations keep their people informed and involved. They provide the right levels of clarity and direction combined with the trust and autonomy that allows people to find their own way of reaching goals that are aligned to the organisational strategy. This is also the stuff that leads to happy, as well as productive people, so it’s win win!

At Circle Consulting, we are currently offering complementary 60-minute phone/video slots for business leaders and managers to discuss topics just like this, and support them in navigating troubled waters. To find out more and to book your session email: Ben@circle-consulting.co.uk or visit www.circle-consulting.co.uk

About Ben

Ben spent nine years as an Officer in the Royal Marines in a variety of roles, including operational tours in the Gulf and Afghanistan. He was Head of Physical Training at the Commando Training Centre and had the opportunity to work with a number of corporate clients such as HSBC, Unilever, Castrol Oil and the England Football team, delivering team, leadership and culture programmes. Before setting up Circle Consulting with his wife, Elle, Ben worked at an award-winning people performance consultancy.