Magazine article New Zealand Management

CONSULTATION : Leadership Is an Ambiguous Environment

Magazine article New Zealand Management

CONSULTATION : Leadership Is an Ambiguous Environment

Article excerpt

Byline: Kevin Gaunt

I have read that one of the key attributes of a successful leader is the ability to handle ambiguity effectively. This has made me think, as I tend to be a perfectionist. I always feel I have to get my head around most of the picture before moving forward. Unfortunately in my current senior management role I am finding this increasingly difficult to achieve. Do you have some suggestions please?

An ambiguous environment is by its nature unclear and vague. However, by developing some specific management skills you can strengthen your capability to be effective in this situation.

First of all have a look at how effectively you plan. Do you identify the big things that need to be done and prioritise them, or do you find you are trying to plan for every little thing?

Then take a look at your decision making. Even the best laid plans will fail to achieve their goals due to changing situations. When this happens, do you identify what needs to be done that isn't getting done and make the hard decision to go for it? Another issue around decision making is that it is important for a leader to draw everyone into discussing how to solve a joint problem and then listen to what is being said. Then if an effective decision doesn't naturally arise, the leader needs to take the high ground and make a clear decision for the group, whilst at the same time acknowledging their input.

Following this have a look at your communication skills. Are you able to consistently frame clear and concise messages to the people around you to help them recognise the environment they are in and where they need to be aiming for? Being able to do this well empowers the people around you.

Then I recommend you assess the level of your people management skills, especially goal setting and coaching.

Finally have a look at your ability to handle stress. Working in an ambiguous environment is naturally stressful. If, as you say, you are a perfectionist then you will feel this stress more and need to develop the ability to just let go.

Giving a presentation is definitely not my personal strength. I find it difficult to keep track of what I am saying and often get feedback that I could improve my delivery. …

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