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I caught the end of a report recently which was talking about the difference between top-down organizational initiatives, and bottom-up. This is something that I’ve thought about for many years.

Back when I was in the corporate world, it bugged me that people would declare that the first step in doing something significant was to get an “executive sponsor.”

I understand the logic, but it’s also an excuse to blame inaction on someone else. You’ve disempowered yourself.

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As a leader, you probably spend most of your day responding to stuff. There are a million little things which demand immediate attention – many of them small and quickly dispensed with.

It makes you feel important, because you’re busy all the time. We’re all busy.

But busyness is not productivity. Productivity is launched from having actual thought leading to useful activity.

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One of the key frustrations that employees have identified with returning to the office is that they haven’t heard what the plans are.

I get that. As a leader, you want to have a plan that’s solid, one that’s been checked out and can be committed to your folks. Otherwise you might look flaky.

But you have to fight that urge. Your people deserve more respect and need to know what’s in the works before it’s totally solid. And you need their feedback.

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There have been a whole lot of distractions lately! I’ve had a tough time getting back to what’s important in the new year.

And this picture is so incredibly appropriate to me and the topic! I couldn’t resist. OK, Carl, get back on track.

I have a “short list” of weekly topics sitting in front of me, and that really helps. It has a handful of tasks that I need to pay attention to. And I found it important that this is on an actual sheet of paper on my desk, not hidden in a window that I’ll probably cover up.

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Things seem really heavy right now, don’t they? Emotions are running high because of all the weighty decisions we’re faced with.

It’s a complex environment, but you don’t have to react that way.

You might even have fun!

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A lot of the people I’m working with are immobilized. These are smart people, experienced. But we’re faced with a situation that few of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.

Everything is uncertain. We’re dealing with a virus and recession with no reliable projections for resolution.

Literally nobody on the planet knows what the next six months will look like.

So how do we make decisions in this environment?

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The world is an incredibly complicated place, and it drives me nuts sometimes.

Just when I think I’ve teased apart one problem, I find it’s connected to something else. And on and on!

So how should we deal with this fact of life?

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You may be asking people to make tough sacrifices right now. Reduced hours, changing jobs, making tough decisions.

You’ve thought a lot about it, so you’ve laid out the new plans. Letting every person know what they need to do and how.

But this is missing a key element: Why?

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In uncertain times, we rely on confidence from others around us. We look to political, community, and business leaders to provide direction.

But more than being told what to do, we want to know why. Part of that is assigning blame for something out of our control, but that’s only the negative side of it.

On the good side, we’re looking for a reason to get out of the fight-or-flight response. Our higher selves want to move forward with purpose and intention.

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It seems like the sand is constantly shifting. Whatever assumptions we thought were valid are up for grabs. We don’t know what our customers are going to do, nor the government, nor suppliers.

So how do you know what to do? 

This is the time to look inside yourself for answers.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash
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