I started talking last week about the acronym VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. I’m sure we can all relate to how this describes the world that each of our organizations live in.

I’m offering a replacement for VUCA which tells us how to navigate through all this instability. V was for Values, U is for … Uplift.

That’s because one of the biggest issues we’re dealing with is fear and morale.

When things are uncertain, the fight-or-flight-or-freeze impulse kicks in. And for most employees, the easiest option is to freeze. Do nothing, avoid risks.

Your job as the leader is to notice it, and help people work through their sense of fear. You have several tools to do this:

  • Show people what’s NOT changing. Rarely do you have a situation where EVERYTHING is unstable.
  • Expand their view. Maybe your group is in danger, but the larger company is doing OK. Or the industry. Or the economy.
  • Show them what you’re working on. Sure, you don’t have answers yet, but you’re looking for them.
  • Ask for help. People are going to be much more confident if they’re involved and contributing, not just waiting for the ax to fall.

Yes, you may be displaying a level of optimism that you don’t totally feel yourself. But as the leader, you’re probably better equipped to see the bigger picture and possible paths out of trouble.

That probably gives you a little more hope and confidence than your employees, so share that with them. Even if it’s mostly based on gut feel.

For you, it’s a little “fake it ‘til you make it,” but it helps. You want to be able to sleep at night.