7 Power Tips for Facing Turbulence
Turbulence grabs attention, focuses energy, stretches relationships, tests resolve, and shows you who you are.
Leadership tips during turbulence.
Turbulence is useful when it:
- Strengthens connections. People who trust each other pull together during tough times; people who don’t, pull apart.
- Disrupts stagnant patterns.
- Challenges old ways of thinking and invites creativity and innovation.
- Drives self-reflection, rather than blame and irresponsibility.
- Motivates outward focus. Turning inward without turning outward is organizational suicide. Don’t hunker down and ride it out.
- Purifies mission. Is it time to get back to basics?
- Provides an enemy. Defeating enemies energizes armies.
7 sources of turbulence:
- Unforeseen opportunities.
- Team turnover.
- Surprising failure.
- Unforeseen challenges.
- Economic downturns.
- New competitors.
- Organizational infighting.
Growth frames leadership’s attitude and approach to everything.
Turbulence provides growth points for leaders and organizations by disrupting:
- Dependence on processes and procedures.
- Assumptions about the future.
- Traditional sources of confidence.
The way you do things becomes the way you die, if you don’t adapt as you go.
7 power tips for facing turbulence:
- Acknowledge reality. If times are tough, say so.
- Answer fear by pressing into the future.
- Integrate new people and strengthen existing relationships.
- Watch for teammates who rise up under pressure. Engage and encourage them.
- Develop new rituals. Stop into the offices of key people on Monday morning for brief conversations, for example.
- Don’t create policies that deal with exceptions.
- Do what matters most. Busy work matters less when opportunities are slipping through your fingers.
Bonus: Don’t dabble. Dabblers drown in turbulence.
Most important, press forward during turbulence. Leaders who hunker down and turn inward miss growth points that turbulence provides.
What are some benefits or dangers of turbulence?
How can leaders face turbulence successfully?
“Press forward during turbulence”. It’s advice I have given to many because I learned the lesson the hard way. Turbulence often happens at the height of change, with it’s maximum power (that can be interpreted as a positive and negative) right before the point of breakthrough. People resistant to change will dig in deep and they will derail you if you let them. Keep going. Leadership is for the few and not the masses. If you want real change in your team and organization, you have to successfully navigate turbulent waters and carry those that can’t (or let them bail without taking the rest of your team with them).
I once missed a golden opportunity to move myself, our team and our organization forward because I didn’t ride out the turbulence. I settled for calmer waters. Never again.
Brilliant Alf! I’ve learned the lesson the hard way, too. Pulling back is so tempting. We don’t have to charge hell with a squirt gun, but we can stay on mission and continue moving forward. If we don’t turbulence wins.
Nothing worse than intentional turbulence from the top. Focus on small wins for your team to keep their minds focused and pressing forward towards a stable future. In time whatever causing the turbulence will calm … or leave.
Thanks Michael. Shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up. I bet we’ll agree that turbulence with a purpose can be useful.
Love the small win idea. Big wins are great but small wins are achievable.
Turbulence can serve as a clarion call for systemic review and/or change. An invitation to revisit the organization’s vision, mission and values and ensure alignment with people, structure and processes. Often times turbulence is an opportunity to rejig some aspect of that crucial alignment between aspiration and implementation- serving as a potential pivot point toward growth.
Have a great day!
Thanks Lori. “Rejig” 🙂
The term alignment means a lot to me. There’s a huge difference between alignment and convincing or pressuring.
Turbulence is the time to ask ourselves, what are we doing and do we really want to do that.
Turbulence well diagnosed. Remedy expertly prescribed. Thank you LF.
Thanks Dr. Tahir.
To draw an analogy from physics and engineering, turbulence in fluids occurs when velocity is high compared to available flow area and viscosity. It is characterized by chaotic movement and increased energy losses. In organizations, turbulence occurs when velocity (rate of movement or change) is high in comparison to available flow area (resources) and viscosity (resistance to change). It results in chaotic movement that is generally in the right direction but wastes lots of energy.
To minimize turbulence, we need to reduce the amount of change in relation to the amount of resources available, either by doing less (more focus) or providing more resources. We can also reduce resistance to change by removing fear, providing a compelling vision of the future that makes change worthwhile, and asking people to help us. The result will be more streamlined work flow and less wasted energy.
In fluid flow, turbulence is not all bad. It is useful for removing sediment on pipe walls and preventing deposition, as well as mixing. In organizations, turbulence serves to shake up routines and provide an avenue for understanding each other better by bringing people into contact in ways they normally would not have done when operating in set, predictable roles.
Thanks Marc. Love your engineering perspective. As I read your comment, I wondered if turbulence might be the result of differences between capacity and demand. Organizations have certain capacity but the demands of new challenges, etc., exceed them. It’s an interesting way for me to think about it.
Dealing with turbulence becomes an issue of dealing with capacity and/or demand.
Good morning Dan;
It’s quite easy to apper to be a good leader when there are ‘no’ problems or turbulence. Problem is, in todays buisiness culture, there are always new problems to address. When you want to identify the ‘True-Leaders’ in your organization, simply look around you.Who do people look to for answers and direction, who do people trust enough to follow to follow their vision, who do people gravitate to during times of crisis, who can people count on to turn sometyhing bad into something good? “THEY GO TO PROBLEM SOLVERS/TRUE LEADERS”! Not whiners or excuse makers. They look to those who can inspire others to commit. They look to others who consistantly find ways to expedite problems that typically slow others down. It takes a network of peop[le working together who know they can count on one another to be there even when it’s inconvenient. Problems and turbulence are great identifiers of the true measure of a leader. Problems that are ignored, are problems that grow. People that face turbulence while solving problems are leaders we respect, they’re also people that grow. This reminds me of of a fairly new commercial I saw recently for the United States Marine Corps. “There’s an explosion, smoke and dust fill the air, people are running away, while Marines are running into the eye of the storm”! THATS WHAT A LEADER DOES, THAT’S WHAT A LEADER IS…
Turbulence can be distructive, but they also reveal your go-too people, those you can rely on. They also reveal dead weight. “Which one are YOU”???
Excellent comment. I concur with the need for fearless take-charge leaders, as Gulianni was after 911.
One concern I have is for leaders who take action during the fire, but don’t take appropriate action to prevent repeat fires. Firefighters save a few lives in spectacular fashion, but building codes save many more. Leaders who care about others will care about maximum effect, not about personal heroics.
Rite back atcha Marc. Like the comment regarding Firefighters and building codes, ‘so true’. It’s a great thing to be a problem solver, but much less painfull to elliminate problems before they begin…
Love the firefighter analogy. I’ve also seen too many organizations promote the good firefighters and not those focused on fire prevention.
I like that analogy with the building codes…that made me think more deeply about this. Thank you!
“Answer fear by pressing into the future.”
— Wow! this is a difference making statement! How often do I answer fear by hesitation, or just stopping cold! There always seem to be “fear walls” between ourselves and living our our God-given potentials….
Great post, Dan. There is a lot in here. I particularly like: “The way you do things becomes the way you die, if you don’t adapt as you go.”
No turbulence , no adventure, no gain. Sticking your nose into the mud, that’s isn’t what leaders are made of. Benefits in terms of new ideas with innovative creativity. Danger that one never knows till one tries their best and see what the future holds.Face the future clamly and think out of the box!
No turbulence , no adventure, no gain. Sticking your nose into the mud, that’s isn’t what leaders are made of. Benefits in terms of new ideas with innovative creativity. Danger that one never knows till one tries their best and see what the future holds.Face the future calmly and think out of the box!
More than one of my close relatives have offered their clients the kind of public relations advice and assistance that helped them “build bridges vs. barriers.” Always, it paid off handsomely!
Great question, “How can leaders face turbulence?” And I love the comment, “press forward during turbulence. Leaders who hunker down and turn inward miss growth points that turbulence provides.” One thing I can add to the conversation is the role of “adaptation.” In my experience in developing leaders in over 50 countries, true leaders adapt when the conditions change. Leaders rise up when adaptation is needed. They don’t whine about their limitations, lack of resources or support. They just adapt. If anyone is interested, I wrote a blog, “Don’t Whine, Just Adapt | How the Outdoors Teaches Us Adaptation” http://adenton.com/1ncHkMb Thanks again for the leadership tips @Leadershipfreak!
Dan, Big Gracias for the post.
I Love the 7 power tips for facing turbulence.