Skip to content
Leadership during turbulent times

The Impact on Leadership During Turbulent Times

With the UK general election tomorrow and the Irish and US general elections just around the corner, we begin to enter a period of uncertainty. Many of us will want to know what this will mean for people, management and leadership during turbulent times. Experts will try to foresee the effects that the election results will have on the economy, business growth, leadership and management, HR, talent retention, employment rates and so on but rarely are they totally accurate. Instead, it is more so up to organisations and their people to prepare for the turbulent times of change, foreseen and unforeseen.

Fear of change or fear of no change?

Many people are apprehensive of the near future, not just politically but socially, economically and in the workplace. It’s not too difficult to see why as previously during times of uncertainty and economic turbulence, companies have looked to the people as one of the easiest ways to cut costs. However, investing in the upskilling and resilience of the people during times of hardship might actually be a better choice to make. Wayne Cascio, professor of global leadership at the University of Colorado, concluded his research into the long-term effects of layoffs on organisations, by showing that they often tend to trigger a ‘death spiral’ of falling organisational performance.

I do not think in this instance that people are fearing the unknown but are more so apprehensive about seeing a lot of the same – without a stable government it is very difficult to have collective financial and tax stability, healthy inflation rates and fair house prices – to name just a few. People want change but are not sure where or how the change is going to come about. Subsequently, it is important for business and government to work closer together post-election as well as a greater focus on organisations building and encouraging resilience and the growth of their people. It is also up to individual and collective leadership during turbulent times to best support their people.

Airplane flying towards blue skies

Hope in uncertainty can bring people together

What I have seen recently from some friends, family and colleagues is a collective hope for the future. Change and uncertainty can worry us, but it can also inspire us. Sometimes it requires a resilient mindset but sometimes it can just require open and honest conversations where people are open to their beliefs, opinions and assumptions being challenged. In a polarised world, people tend to turn their noses up at debate with their feelings so strong that they refuse to consider the viewpoint of others. This has become a dangerous part of our society, which fuels feelings of isolation, fear of free speech and the suppression of opinions. How can we educate one another when we discourage open and honest conversations?

Currently, the Men’s UEFA European Football Champions are underway in Germany with 24 different teams representing their nations and millions of fans from all over Europe flocking to the host country to support them. No one truly knows what will happen to their country’s team during the tournament, it is uncertain whether they might win or lose, but collectively the people of each nation come together regardless of background, ethnicity, class or sex to support the team. This is an example of hope during uncertainty and it is all fuelled by people uniting under a collective purpose.

The same can be said for organisations during uncertainty and leadership during turbulent times. The moment you see the workforce, top to bottom, all buying into the same cause as a collective, you tend to see hope and an increase in morale, productivity and growth. The moment you see open and honest conversations being discouraged, conversations happening behind one another’s back, unclear directions from leaders and managers and a sense of confusion throughout the organisation, you will tend to find fear and apprehension for change and the unknown. So, what can leaders and managers do to instil this collective ‘buy-in’ from their people during turbulent times?

Many countries within hearts
Street art that includes many of the competing countries at this summers Men’s UEFA European Football Champions. Cologne, Germany.

The power of investing in people development

Investing in the workforce during times of uncertainty can be a powerful and effective decision. Here are just a few reasons as to why:

  1. Maintaining Competitiveness: During turbulent times, businesses face heightened competition as consumer spending decreases and companies fight for a smaller market share. Investing in people development ensures that organisations remain competitive by staying up to date with industry trends, enhancing skills and improving processes.
  2. Adaptability: Developing personal skills fosters adaptability, allowing individuals and companies to pivot quickly in response to changing circumstances, seize new opportunities, and mitigate risks.
  3. Employee Morale and Engagement: During uncertainty, job security concerns can impact employee morale and engagement. Investing in personal development initiatives demonstrates a commitment to employees’ growth and well-being, boosting morale and fostering a sense of loyalty even during challenging times.
  4. Innovation and Problem-Solving: Investing in skills development fosters innovation by encouraging employees to think critically, solve problems creatively and explore unconventional ideas, driving business growth even in adverse economic conditions.
  5. Future Preparedness: Continued investment in personal development prepares individuals and companies for future growth opportunities, positioning them to emerge stronger from turbulent times and thrive in the recovery phase.
  6. Talent Retention: Investing in your people can help retain top talent by demonstrating a commitment to their professional growth and advancement within the organisation.

Overall, investing in your people is not just about surviving the current economic challenges but also about positioning oneself and the organisation for long-term success and resilience in the face of future uncertainties.

Ways to invest in you and your people

Developing the skills of effective leadership during turbulent times is just as important as upskilling and developing your people. Leadership and development suppliers, such as Roffey Park Institute, specialise in both. Our range of open programmes looks to boost the tools, skills and development required to help you navigate through change confidently. Take our Leadership Development Programme as an example, a course designed to help you balance the implementation of strategy and delivery of operational goals whatever the effects of the external environment on business.

Or the Developing Influence and Impact Course, a programme designed to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to influence and manage challenges – as well as help to create a resilient mindset. These are two examples of many open programmes we offer that can not just boost effective leadership during turbulent times but can also help upskill and prepare your workforce to deal with and manage uncertainty themselves.

Don’t navigate through change and uncertainty alone, we are here to help – book today and convert apprehension into hope.

More Insights

Back To Top