Finding clarity amongst the chaos

By Jaimie Ratten
Founder & Managing Director

These are extraordinary, unsettling and uncertain times.

Everything is an unknown unknown and every business and political leader now finds themselves in unchartered territory with COVID-19.

While leadership is a lonely and unforgiving place, people in leadership roles have the ability to make choices and take action in the midst of this global crisis. The reins are in their hands.

Employees however, who are experiencing the same anxieties and fears as their leaders, have virtually no say or control over the outcome.

It is this sense of helplessness in times of extreme stress that sometimes drives all of us to behave in ways that are contrary to who we are and what we stand for.

By its very definition, an organisation is a group of individuals with a common purpose, so it’s not surprising then that this behaviour at an individual level can create behaviours within a company that are at odds with its stated purpose or beliefs.

When, as is currently the case with COVID-19, everything is falling apart around us, it is easy for people to forget about company goals, reacting without intent to the detriment of the long-term future of the organisation.

But it is exactly during these times, when fear and uncertainty are testing people’s personal belief systems and their behaviours, that leaders need to reaffirm to their people what the organisation stands for in order to maintain its centre of gravity.

As Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, wrote in his letter to all employees last week, “It is in times of great disruption and uncertainty that our ability to stay grounded in our sense of purpose and remain true to our identity is of the utmost importance.”

Clarity of purpose is not about people feeling good in difficult and challenging situations. It is about ensuring organisational competitiveness and performance despite the environment. Volatility and uncertainly are increasing, and they will continue to do so long after COVID-19 has passed.

If you haven’t already reiterated to your workforce what you are all working to achieve and the principles by which you operate, now would be a good time.

Likewise, if your purpose, mission, vision or values are not providing your people with the clarity they need amongst all this chaos then it’s time to rethink what you truly stand for as an organisation.