New ways to lead through complexity


How to lead strongly through complex change.

Leading people through complex change requires different skills and behaviours in your leaders that they need to learn.

Whether it’s an immediate, imminent or latent crisis situation, or just a situation that is overwhelmingly complex, the human brain can go into survival mode. People find it more difficult to process information. People seek confirmation before taking action. Survival instincts can over-ride normal behaviour.

And it's not only our staff and our customers who respond may like this. Our leaders need support too.

Now is the time for human-centred leadership.

We need human centred leadership skills today.

In times of change, if we don’t consider how people might react, our well-crafted business continuity strategies will be only partially effective.

Here's what to look out for:

People find it difficult to process information.

During a sudden change, we become very focussed on our own survival. It is hard to be open to new perspectives during a complex situation. We hold onto deeply held beliefs and interpret information in line with these beliefs.

People seek confirmation before taking action.

At a time where early, clear and decisive action can have a huge positive impact on the situation, people hesitate and seek more confirmation before acting during times of uncertainty.

Survival instincts can over-ride normal behaviour.

During times of fear, uncertainty and ambiguity, our survival instincts can have damaging cultural impact, it is essential for leaders to steward their people in a human-centred, calm, strategic and well-informed way.

So what can you do?

Leading people through complex change requires different skills and behaviours in your leaders.

The focus should be on building your ability to navigate through highly complex and ambiguous situations unlock the potential of your teams. What's crucial are abilities to build and sustain connection in remote situations, combined with being able to self-care—being in the best place yourself so that you can support others.

This is the time for human-centred leadership.

Here are some of the key things to focus on in how to lead through complex change:

Boost your ability to connect and embody hope.

Helping people stay out of the fear-based survival mode requires your leaders to connect with them as people, and embody clear, wise, steady leadership. This provides a consistent and certain frame to support and guide your people, and help keep them calm and focused.

Benefit: more effective results from your continuity plans, and greater levels of support from your people.

Improve decision-making in complexity and ambiguity.

Best practice can’t help us in new situations. We need to adapt. In new and evolving situations, leaders need to embody a decision-making style that embraces complexity and deals with changes in an emergent way. This is sometimes a tough ask—having to change the plans you established last week.

Benefit: more certain and clear leadership that adapts, keeps teams performing and feeling well-led.

Think beyond tools and design a human-centred action plan.

Business continuity plans tend to have a functional bias to them and focus on data, systems, process and procedures. With widespread, long term and an unpredictable crises, we need to respond by designing an action plan for continuity through takes the person into consideration.

Benefit: improved team experience through change, and increased feelings of usefulness during change.

Leading through complex change


A coaching program to help build the mindsets, knowledge and skills in leaders facing new and unpredictable challenges.

Leading through complex change is a deep dive into five key foundations of human centred leadership. These skills underpin the fundamentals of leading in the 21st century. The skills you'll learn are re-usable on the other side of of whatever change you're dealing with to support establishing new cultures and ways of working in agile and digital landscapes.

Key lessons for leading through complexity

Tuning in—Establish new ways of leading by using listening skills that make people feel more connected and confident.

Being remotely located from people means that you'll need to put more emphasis on the verbal part of communication. It's harder to rely on non-verbal cues. Establishing better listening practices is the ket to doing this and it starts with becoming aware of how you are listening.

What we're seeing in our clients so far is that the leaders who pick up the phone and call their team members are seeing better results than the ones who rely on email. If you're an introverted leader, then this is an area you need to focus on. If you're an extroverted leader, then now is the time to do less talking and more listening.

In this module we'll practice new listening skills and mindsets that will help you build better connection with your team and help you lead through uncertainty.

Showing up—Overcome your challenges by changing your presence and the way have conversations with your people.

In times of crisis teams need their leader to show up. By this we mean be there for them, be available and to hold different kinds of conversations. In these times you're holding a different kind of space for people, and enabling more connection and clarity.

This means having conversations with your people in new ways and creating new rhythms. These really help create a stronger sense of balance and orientation as to what day it is. We're already seeing people struggle with the adjustment to working from home, and establishing new rhythms helps create a sense of predictability, even if what happens next is uncertain.

In this section you'll learn how to show up for your team and how to create a new sense of rhythm to establish balance and normality in the face of change.

Reflecting—Manage uncertainty and remain open in the moment by establishing a reflective practice to learn from change.

This is a cornerstone of leading in the 21st century anyway, but a reflective practice will help you and your team adapt faster. This requires some new mindsets as well as skills, and what we're seeing in teams who establish a reflective practice better connection and faster adaptation.

For leaders, reflecting needs to happen in the moment as well as retrospectively. Being present to what is happening inside you and how you are reacting in times of uncertainty, can give you an edge when it comes to leading confidently.

In this module you'll learn the new mindsets and practices to establish and run a reflective practice for yourself and your team to increase levels of certainty.

Emergence—Establish confidence as a leader by providing clarity and direction within ambiguous contexts and times of uncertainty.

Now more than ever, dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) is absolutely essential for a leader who needs to respond more quickly and with more confidence. We know that best practice does not work in complex environments, and in times that require urgent change, best practice can lock you into a false sense of security.

We're seeing success in teams of act first, then sense what's working (through reflection), and then adapt and respond. Teams who group together to form a detailed and comprehensive plan are being overtaken by the rate of change.

In this section, you'll learn how to respond in high levels of ambiguity and complexity so you and your team can adapt quickly and move forward with more confidence.

Growth—Become comfortable with new ways of leading by feeling a sense of possibility, progress, and growth.

People are motivated by a sense of purpose, and your job as a leader is to connect them with that. But they need two other things as well: to feel competent and able to do their job, and to have a sense of possibility that it is achievable. This sense of hope is absolutely essential in times of change.

We're seeing leaders in all industries overwhelmed by extreme pressures over the last 18 months. Their connection to purpose is clear, but in the face of an uncertain and ambiguous future, their own sense of hope fades. We've seen teams' morale plummet when their leader loses hope.

In this final module, you'll learn the skills and mindsets needed to stay connected to possibility so you can instil a sense of hope and possibility in your teams and keep them feeling motivated and productive.

Need help now? Let's coach you.

Our senior team can jump on the phone or zoom and help coach you through these challenging times. We can also support you with some tools and resources.

Book a free strategy call

These are reusable skills

These human centred leadership skills are also the foundations of leading in an agile and digital landscape. Investing in this program now will have your leaders and teams thrive through change and set them up for success.

It will also set you up to underpin the new models of leadership required to lead in an agile and digital way of working in the future.

We’ve seen organisations struggle with agile transformation because they have missed setting new core leadership competencies beyond the technical skills of doing agile.