In times of great change, as in times of crisis, leaders sometimes need to jump into "directive" mode.
That's what I realized during some chatting today with fellow managers. You see, we were talking about how managers and leaders can be more effective in times of change and uncertainty, as part of a discussion about 'situational leadership' and we reckoned that even experienced employees often welcome specific, unambiguous direction in times of crisis. This is sometimes difficult for managers with experienced teams, as we often think the best thing is just to stay out of their way because they'll figure it out quickly enough. In reality, even experienced employees can stall out and panic during these times of great change.
This rang true for me, and reminded me of my first aid / emergency medical training. In that training, they tell you that when someone is having a medical emergency, one of the worst things you can do is trust / hope that 'someone' will do the right thing. In medical emergencies, they tell you to take charge, look at a specific person and say to them, "You - call 911!" so you don't have to leave things to chance. In other words, give a specific person a specific thing to do so they can focus on what's required of them.
In times of organizational upheaval or uncertainty, the same principle holds true. Rather than hope that everyone gets back to work and figures out what to do next, many people look to company leaders to jump into "take charge" mode and start giving specific instructions. "You - go work on x, and get it done by the end of the week." This gets people working again, gets them focused, and takes their mind off the chaos.
I've been in uncertain and rapidly changing situations quite a bit in my life, and there are a lot of changes going on in my world right now. Maybe it's time for me to be more directive to get people focused and moving forward. What about you? Any of this sound familiar? Share your thoughts, please.