Are you suffering from Post Brexit Stress Disorder? 3 guiding principles for leading in uncertain times.

Posted on: July 18, 2016

It’s less than 3 weeks since we woke up to the news that Britain had voted to leave the EU and you are probably still grappling with the aftershocks of this seismic event. Whichever way you voted, this decision has catapulted us into uncharted territory.

To be an effective leader you need to be able to tolerate uncertainty. We live in a “VUCA” world: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous and you need to make sense of the environment for your tribe and point a way forward that provides hope – without making false promises.

Here are some “guiding principles” that have helped me during the last 3 weeks:

1. Prioritise self-care – take time to steady yourself so that you can then be a positive influence on others.

There is no security to be had in the FTSE or the sterling exchange rate. Resilience comes from the quality of your relationships and your sense of being embedded in a community that will look out for you. Remind yourself of all the ways in which you are wealthy – be it health, loved ones or talents. Take a walk barefoot on the grass and feel the ground beneath your feet. I do this simple practice most days and it really grounds me.

2. Seek out different perspectives on the situation

Reading the mainstream media often just inflames your feelings and creates little new understanding. Seek out thoughtful, compassionate commentaries on the situation that illuminate the underlying dynamics, such as this piece by American author and speaker Charles Eisenstein: The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment.

3. Look for what is seeking to emerge

Professor Otto Scharmer of MIT coined the phrase leading from the emerging future. Despite all indications to the contrary, humanity is always evolving and sometimes these shocks to the system are exactly what is needed for new possibilities to emerge. Maybe this shake up will lead to a transformation of the EU so that it becomes far more democratic and lives up to the ideal of European collaboration? Reset your “filter” and rather than scanning the environment for risk, look out for possibility.

Trying to find certainty and waiting for a strong political leader to rescue you from our VUCA world just will not work any more. To be a 21st century leader you need to develop your uncertainty “muscle”. As the Hopi Indians say “We are the ones we have been waiting for”.

Warm wishes