How to Navigate the Unknown in Challenging Times

In our current economic climate, it can be difficult to determine what to do next when the market doesn’t feel as predictable as it may have in the past. That is totally normal—there are so many unknowns and variables that many of the businesses we work with have never experienced before. How do we navigate the unknown in challenging times? What’s important to remember is that the most successful businesses that come out on the other side of this are the ones that are able to stay closely connected to their team.

Zoom Crew Cartoon - How to Navigate the Unknown in Challenging Times - Leading Edge Teams

The more you can connect and collaborate with your team, the better chances you have for the next best moves to come forward. Your team is your think-tank during challenging situations—that’s why you’ll want to circle up more often to navigate all of the impactful external drivers that are changing frequently. You and your team can then make the best agreements with the information on hand and your goal(s) in mind, and then get aligned together to take action. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid challenges, mistakes, unexpected changes, and failures along the way. You’ll get better as you go, but it’s a long voyage that demands education, commitment, practice, and a willingness to endure difficult feelings and situations.

Navigating Change

A to V - Theory, Reality, Business Happens - Not a straight line - Leading Edge Teams

The journey from A to V (A = your current state, V = your future desired state or vision manifest) usually goes something like this: You make a plan for the direction you want to go, you take a few steps, and then you assess what actually happened. Sometimes things go exactly as you expected, but most of the time it’s something pretty different that requires you and your team to address issues, make changes, and plan pivots—all while learning in the process. And in this rapidly changing business environment with so many unknowns on the horizon that may require you to pivot quickly, you and your team need to realign to your V State and make the adjustments based on what will put you back on track to achieve those future desired outcomes. Then, you take a few more steps and see what happens. Be open to new information as it comes forward. Adjust. Repeat!

And take heart from this quote I love, from an author who’s unknown but, to me, brilliant: “The bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you refuse to make the turn.” 

Right now, there may be many bends and that’s okay as long as you and your team are making those turns together.

One more word to the wise: When you step off of A and things go differently than you anticipated, do not waste time, energy, and resources trying to return to A because it seems better in retrospect than these new challenges. That option is no longer available! Seriously, once you step off of A, it no longer exists. This is because the world keeps moving forward. You can’t go back to how things were before. Even if you tried, your customers’ needs and expectations have likely changed, or one of your competitors could be gaining market share, or perhaps a popular product of yours is about to go obsolete. You can change your direction, but you still have to move forward, because returning to the past isn’t possible. 

What do you do instead?

Here’s a list of suggestions that can best set you and your team up for success as you continue to navigate the unknown in these challenging times…

  • Make sure you are doing your part to show up in Self-Leadership. This might mean doubling down on your self care so that you are showing up as your best self. During challenging times, it can be difficult to stay out of reactivity. This is why you have to be more willing to do what it takes to get back into Self-Leadership.
  • Dedicate part of your current meetings to check in on each other to make sure everyone is doing okay. This may seem obvious, but it is worth pointing out—this will help create another layer of psychological safety. When everything you are doing isn’t predictable and business as usual, you and your team may be stretched far out of your comfort zone. This can leave each of you in self-protection more than normal.
  • Create a weekly meeting to discuss current external drivers that may have an impact on the business. Being in it together will help you discuss the best ideas as to how to proceed each week. Even if there isn’t much new information week to week and no new actions are needed, adding in this level of check in helps create the safety needed to pivot quickly when appropriate.

While you cannot always accurately predict what is going to happen during these challenging times, you can work together to find the best ways to navigate them together and come out on the other side stronger.

This is leadership!


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