Leadership & Uncertainty
A few weeks ago, part of the Devenez Leader’s team had the pleasure of going to the Epsilon show in Louvain La Neuve. Our main goal was to attend the conference of Cécile Dejoux, professor at CNAM and ESCP Business School. As a speaker on management, her point of view was of particular interest to us. So this month, we decided to share what we learned with you.
What does Cécile Dejoux say? What clarifications does she bring on today’s management?
The first point concerns the level of uncertainty that organizations and their leaders face today. Uncertainty is what is improbable. Well, this level of uncertainty is at a maximum: new elements such as the Covid crisis, the war in Ukraine, the rise in energy prices, and other rapid and difficult-to-control reversals mean that we are at the maximum notch on the uncertainty scale. This requires us to create new and rapid responses.
Uncertainty does not only have bad sides. It is necessary to see the positive sides. It is the moment when we are forced to learn, to change our strategic or mental models, to change our perspective. Uncertainty is where we learn best and, above all, where we retain what we have learned best.
Uncertainty is also a collaboration gas pedal. It allows us to give a voice to our collaborators in order to listen to what they have to say and to capture in their feedback all the weak signals conducive to a better understanding of our internal and external environments.
A second point made during her conference concerns the notion of paradox. Cécile Dejoux reminds us that before, in a slower and more predictable world, the leader decided what to do. His group followed and the process was successful. Today, this is no longer the case. Or more and more rarely. Today’s leader has to deal with opposites, with paradoxical injunctions in his decision making, and he has to decide. Things have become ambiguous. The context has become a grey area and no longer white or black. The leader must learn to handle opposites. Faced with this, the values to be favored are frugality (saving resources – not necessarily seeking to invest more resources) and innovation through new responses. And of course create the conditions for this innovation internally.
The current context is characterized by an acceleration of the pace and capabilities of tools at the service of business. And we can’t ask the same pace from humans. Sprinting all day is impossible. We will only get exhaustion, inefficiency and non-productivity. Slow management is the way to go! Take time and give time. For example, accept that your employees do not go to all the meetings. In short, reconsider deceleration as a management tool. And respecting the uniqueness of each of your employees, as, for example, with regards to telecommuting: some are “telerobust”, others “telefragile”. “One size fits all” is no longer the order of the day.
Faced with all this, what managerial posture should we adopt?
It has become essential to manage by paddling: by going off on tangents, by accepting uncertainties and paradoxes that defy logic. By being agile and opportunistic. By being astute and inserting yourself into communities or developing them. We are no longer in the stable world of expertise. things move fast.
Let’s also note the importance of leading with data : using data to anticipate scenarios and understand if what we are doing is performing well. In order to adapt to your market. Knowing how to use statistics is important. Tools like “My Data Model” exist to help us do this.
Knowing how to work in a hybrid way is key: synchronous and asynchronous. For work and training. This has the advantages of being cheaper, accommodating groups and including the whole world. Communication channels also need to be rethought: which channel for which type of communication? The review of agendas as well: are all meetings necessary and useful?
But this is not enough. Faced with the current disengagement, management must understand that it is now in the logic of “Care”. Taking care of oneself and others physically, mentally and emotionally. Taking care of oneself and one’s team. It is a co-responsibility that must be carried together. “Care” also means relearning to manage one’s agenda, to regain control of one’s attention, to continue to take the time to learn. Because we are constantly being robbed of our attention and memory. It is time to learn to refocus. And on this point, “less is more”.
Here are some key concepts from Cécile Dejoux’s conference. This reinforces the idea that leadership is a role of high human responsibility and that it cannot be improvised and that it requires constant adaptation. To better support and achieve the projects of your team and your organization.