Change is a constant. How do effective leaders handle it?

As soon as you feel like we have something figured out, the parameters change and you need to recalibrate. Currently, my husband and I are in the process of buying a new car for the first time in a decade. The biggest challenge has been catching up with the last 10 years of automotive technology. We’ve been driving every day in those last ten years, so we are not unfamiliar with what it feels like behind the wheel of a car. But if we don’t adjust our expectations to account for all of the innovations that have taken place since we last strolled through a car dealership, we’ll end up with 2008 features and still think we got a great deal!

While it may feel like change is happening more rapidly than ever before, change is nothing new. In fact, since I was a child, my mother has said that the only constant is change, and that accepting this is the only way to be happy. But this is certainly not easy. We frequently have to make decisions based on new, incomplete, and even contradictory information. This doesn’t just happen at work; our entire lives unfold in this ever-present state of complexity and ambiguity.

How can we help our clients deal with complexity and ambiguity so that they can handle change and be effective in their role? With this question in mind, we recently conducted a study on the behaviors that characterize leaders who are effective in complex and ambiguous situations. We found seven LEA behaviors that are closely associated with effectiveness in this area.  While there is no magical formula that will work across the board, knowing which behaviors are closely associated with effectiveness in complexity and ambiguity can help us guide those we serve to take more informed steps in the right direction. Knowing what works for effective leaders is a great way to start the conversation and help clients begin to find some focus.

Take a look at the best practice report here, and let us know how this factors into your work. How do you help your clients deal with complexity and ambiguity? How do you bring research insights into the conversation?

About the author

Maria is Head of Research at MRG. She loves a challenge and often gets a little too excited about running new studies. She finds peace and balance by cooking (as long as her husband is doing the cleaning) or being anywhere near the ocean.

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