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Where We Go from Here?

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

As we wrap up 2022 many of us are taking a deep breath, potentially even a sigh of relief with another tumultuous year nearly complete. The up's and down's of our economy, the state of politics, our increasingly polarized views on substantive topics that effect us all in one way or another, can be a gnawing energy suck constantly droning in the background. As business leaders we have to show up with awareness to the smallest of details and how they might impact margin or our customer satisfaction scores, all while balancing the much larger dynamics at play driven by exogenous macroeconomic factors that affect more intangible yet absolutely critical things like wellbeing, workforce engagement, confidence and more.

In many of her writing's Brené Brown speaks to the courage it takes to lead, and the benefits of vulnerability & authenticity. Similarly themed is an excellent book about radical candor by Kim Scott, where she says " The essence of leadership is not getting overwhelmed by circumstances." - More now than ever, how do we as leaders wake up and face the challenges of our day, the real circumstances that we face-with vulnerability & authenticity front and center. Do any of us as leaders really know where we go from here? That's not possible when you think about it pragmatically. How can anyone know where we go from here-isn't that right?

Simon Sinek in a recent post comments on the uncertainty with particular focus on hybrid work, the future of work, and the mindset and social norms that have shifted what's required for workers & workplace. His projection is that 2023 will continue to be bumpy for employers in the context of workplace and worker but that flexibility will be an unwavering and central theme. To hear more on this, there's also a podcast transcript from Brené, Simon & Adam Grant, that goes into more depth. This case study is but one small example of the seemingly unanimous agreement that uncertainty will persist for a time.

In the absence of certainty and with the unnavigable unknowns we face, there's nothing we can do but stand by and let the circumstances that surround us play out - let karma come as it may, and deal us the hands we've been dealt-right? No, that's not at all what we're supposed to do. As Leaders this is our opportunity, now more than ever to put our best plans in place with what can be known (and unknown).

Here are 5 simple tips on how to do just that:

  1. Plans should be simple & clear - Stating what is known and stating what is unknown in any simple and clear plan, lends credibility. Sharing your own concerns and the lack of certainty for different aspects of it i.e.; unknown market conditions, future business performance, new competitive offerings, and the like-all demonstrate a humanity in the strategy that is endearing & real.

  2. Communicate with consistency* - the best plans are those that are commonly understood by all. As a leader having a plan that is only that (yours), is the worst plan of all. Any plan should be thoughtfully and consistently communicated over and over and yes...over again. *If you are feeling particularly bold, let these reviews become feedback sessions where teams can provide input. Input heard, is not always input taken, but it is heard-did you hear that?

  3. Be the leader (Bold & Courageous Vision) - if there were ever a time to evoke confidence and buy-in from a team, it's with a bold and confident delivery of vision. How do you know when enough is enough? When your teams are looking around to see who is leading, you need to be more bold & courageous. When your teams are looking to you-you've given them something inspiring to get behind. In times of uncertainty, people are looking for solid ground to put their feet on - you can be that for your teams.

  4. Build & Recruit - when we put plans in place, we have to find ways to replicate ourselves to build up the plan and recruit the teams. Because we can't be in all places at all times, seeing the people that are bought in, and building them up & recruiting them to become ambassadors of the plan is critical. After all, plans without the team's support are just ideas.

  5. Establish Accountability - Accountability is a sharp word that sometimes has negative connotations, but as a leader we are accountable to our teams just as much as they are accountable to us for the plans we align and mobilize around. Define a cadence for updates, milestones, progress (successes & failures), to ensure your plans are getting traction throughout the organization. Old style management practices lead to hierarchical accountability, whereas some of the very best forms of accountability come from Agile rituals e.g.; Invite & Excite - to read more on this, look at a great book called Machine, Platform, Crowd.

Where we go from here? We go up, we go forward, we go boldly & courageously. Does anyone really know where any of those paths lead - probably less now, and yet our teams are depending on great leadership to help and provide assurance that wherever we are headed is surely brilliant. Great leadership is made in the crucible of challenge & adversity, so why not use these times to sharpen our skills and lead when it's so desperately needed.

2023 is bound to be spectacular, full of vibrant colors of contrast that come from winning as teams, and sometimes losing-yet making progress none-the-less.

Where we go from here? That's in large part up to you. Cheers to 2023!

Author: Brandon Buckingham

Title: CEO JRA Ventures

About: As a long-time leader of businesses large and small, Brandon stepped out of the corporate world to acquire and build businesses. With a passion for true leadership and a vision for growth he now leads a diverse team across several growing ventures.

Education: University of Notre Dame MBA, Finance & Marketing (cum laude), Sloan MIT trained innovator & technologist, GVSU Laker

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