Facing the dreaded JUMBLE

This is the “J” installment of my “Alphabet for Leaders.”

Jumble means confused or disordered mass.

The need for clarity has a dangerous side.

You’re future certainly holds a jumbled mass. When you meet it, don’t jump too soon. If you can live with the frustration of jumbled thinking, you’ll eventually find great solutions. If you jump too soon for an answer, you’ll likely end up with shallow, short-term, unsatisfactory solutions.

What’s a leader to do with a jumbled mess?

Fight the inclination to jump on an answer too soon by slowing down. Welcome confusion as the context of discovery and dramatic breakthrough. With experience, you’ll learn to go beyond simply welcoming confusion to excitement. You’ll begin anticipating breakthroughs.

One the other hand, the organization, group, or team you lead isn’t comforted when you’re sinking into a jumbled disordered mass. Here are seven things to do or say when you don’t know what to do or say.

#1. Don’t pretend you have answers when you don’t. Feel free to identify with others who are frustrated by a jumbled up mess. However, don’t spend much time here.

#2. Express confidence your team can find solutions.

#3. Explain that making rash decisions is more dangerous than living with uncertainty.

#4. Identify and consult with experts. Your organization will find comfort when you explain you’re consulting with people who have found solutions to similar situations.

#5. Talk about certainties while facing a jumbled mess. However, be careful not to sound like you don’t understand current challenges.

#6. Establish an information time-line. Let everyone know when the next update comes out. In other words, take away as many points of confusion, uncertainty, and fear as possible.

#7. Be sober yet positive, serious yet confident.


What do you suggest leaders do or say when facing a jumbled mess? How do you help clients, volunteers, or employees face the jumble?