Let’s be honest. We human beings hate uncertainty with our heart. We’d rather prefer to live in a non-ever-changing place, even if sometimes it could be a little boring.
But if this year 2020 is teaching us something, it is this: more than ever, we live in a world full of non-expected changes, and we need to adapt.
Good news is that we are designed to survive and adapt. Bad news is that today we don’t have a million years to do it. So, pace became more important than ever.
Before going into more details, let me explain why this is so hard for us.
Our full-squared mind of more or less evolved primates is made to solve complicated problems where cause A leads into effect B (even if the link between cause and effect is not evident).
But nowadays, we live in a world where we cannot see the relationship between causes and effects all of a sudden. Because of the interactions between different systems at different levels. We live in a complex world, sometimes chaotic.
As a result, we get new situations we cannot longer foresee. Therefore, our ancient way to deal with things is not working anymore. And we feel lost.
What can we do?
You are probably tired of reading about embracing change. I actually am. Embracing change is a kind of passive behaviour, like waiting for things to happen and just be ready to react; to make the most of them.
Be just ready doesn’t seem good enough and I feel it is also very tiring too. Ready for what? When? Where? Too many questions to be answered with a lot of uncertainty. Embracing change doesn’t make uncertainty any better.
Maybe it is time to develop a more adaptive intelligent strategy to deal with that. A strategy that allows us to move forward even if we don’t know the path. And above all, a strategy to stop surviving and start growing.
A different strategy to get things done.
Are you ready to say ‘I don’t know’ when it comes to make a hard-complex decision about something you are in charge of? How many times you stick to that decision once made?
If you answered ‘not so often’ to the first question and ‘almost always’ to the second, congratulations! You are part of a very large group of people living with the pressure of having to be right. Unfortunately, being right is a luxury that we cannot afford in complex or chaotic contexts.
The power of saying ‘I don’t know’ especially when you lead
At the beginning of this post I said the pace to make changes happen is more important that ever. And this is exactly the power saying ‘I don’t know’ brings us: we can be faster.
If ‘I don’t know’, there is room for trying and failing and trying again, letting the solution emerge. This kind of controlled freedom to fail can make you faster in problem-solving.
Moreover, if we put ourselves in that ‘I don’t know’ mode, asking for help is easier. We need to boost collaboration and cooperation to move forward. Think how many times your ego went between you and the help you needed….
Getting on-board the right people at the right time is key to get the speed you need.
And, last but not least, we can change our expectations – knowing that tolerance for failure is not the same of tolerance for incompetence: fail as fast as you can to find the answer you need. And learn from the process. You don’t need to be perfect; you need to get things done. Improve later.
This failure-allowed hands-on strategy of trying and experimenting things reduces fears and, therefore, positively impact in creativity and solution-finding.
Emotional-intelligent skilled leaders are the new game changers.
So here we are, with this new cool ‘I don’t know’ mode in place that brings us new opportunities in the form of creativeness, curiosity and collaboration. Or not? Are you really able to quit from the need of being right?
What do you need to be able to get there?
Long story short, you need to develop your emotional intelligence. This includes being able to understand and manage your emotions while being able to understand others and manage your relationships.
The more you know about yourself, the easier would it be to know about self-worth and own capabilities. Knowing more about your capabilities makes easier to say ‘I don’t know’ without having an ego breakdown.
Knowing more about yourself can lead into curiosity about others: how they are different, for example. This awareness can help us develop empathy and understanding about what others need and what they can bring along. Once there, relationship management could be easier: team building, conflict management or collaboration, for example
Maybe you’re thinking now that I’ve lost perspective. Let me close the circle.
We traditionally think about leaders as the ones to follow because they know.
They used to give the answers, define the path, establish the objectives from a prominent position that may or may not have to do with hierarchy.
Now, this is only partially true. We are probably living a time when leaders need to become the ones who make room for new strategies, new people and new answers. We need leaders who foster collaboration instead of competition, believe in improvement instead of perfectionism and don’t have all the answers but get on-board all the people in time.
In summary: there’s no need for leaders with all the answers. To get the right speed, we need game changers.