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When I think back to 2020, I think of the uncertainty we all felt: pandemics, politics, war, inflation, and recession. Historic events piled up and navigating them at the helm of a company was challenging to say the least. Problems changed at a faster rate. The market was uncertain. No one knew what tomorrow would bring or whether we would have to make tough decisions. The future looked so bleak.
As we navigate a new wave of uncertainty, I feel better prepared to deal with it. Still, I empathize with younger leaders who experience the tight rollercoaster of ups and downs I experienced just a few years earlier.
As leaders, we may prefer to focus internally on our business, but in today’s uncertain world, we need to look much more outward than usual. Since there is no way to completely control outside influences, continued resilience is the only way to keep up. Leaders who embody this attitude in their daily work, business, leadership, team and especially themselves are more likely to succeed.
Here are seven ways to be continuously resilient.
Related: Staying Positive When the Startup Life Lets You Down
1. Embrace change
Resilience is the ability to recover from challenges and adapt to unexpected circumstances. To build it, you need to anticipate and embrace change. Starting a startup is already accompanied by constant change. If a company goes from 50 to 100 to 500 people, it will change, and so will the way of managing it. There will be competition, lawsuits, lack of funding, too much funding, expansion, technology, highs and lows. Add multiple global events and the change will only increase. Embrace it – don’t resist change or get angry about it. As a four-time founder, I am ready for any change, making adapting to it more accessible.
Related: Building real resilience amid a changing business landscape
2. Focus on what matters
Problems arise so quickly these days that after solving the main problems, new ones appear immediately. Prioritizing such a constant flow of change can feel like a game of Whack-A-Mole. A flow of prioritization and reprioritisation ensures that you’re always tackling the things that matter, even if they’re constantly changing. To remain successful today, companies must constantly reiterate their top priorities and reevaluate that list with care, consideration, and intention, while making sure they are working hard at the right things.
3. Give people the tools of change
Leaders empowering their teams to make decisions in real time give them more flexibility to adapt to constant change. If everyone on my team said, “Let’s wait and discuss with Mario what he thinks our priorities are,” for any decision, they’d wait maybe two weeks to get into my calendar. That pace doesn’t work. If I empower my team with all the right data and the framework I use to prioritize, they can understand what I would do if I was there and make the right decisions on their own. Communicate priorities, goals and values loud and clear so that everyone can act confidently despite constant change.
Related: 5 Master Skills to Support Resilient Leadership in Turbulent Times
4. Show your team they matter
In uncertain times, it is critical to keep up with the mental health and well-being of the team. I remember some of our people coming up to me and wondering if a corporate kickoff was too expensive now that we’ve grown from 50 to 500 team members.
I reminded them of our first corporate goal: happy people with a healthy and diverse culture. This is the framework that would set our priorities. With so much uncertainty, people’s happiness can hang by a thread, so I gave the company my full support and said it was necessary. Drive team happiness and commitment to employee health and well-being, as prioritizing employees makes them want to continue to overcome hurdles to company health.
Related: 11 Ways Emotionally Intelligent People Overcome Insecurity
5. Don’t take ownership of stress
Releasing stress makes it easier for us to embrace change. Cultivate a sense of calm. Sure, my house is leaking water and I got a bad deal on the ugliest rental car, but while I could complain about these inconveniences, I never let myself get stressed. I was at a hotel when this guy started yelling at the desk clerk demanding a room upgrade because his room had ants. I had to hold back my laughter. There was no point in getting stressed out about it, except maybe aging faster. A week later, none of this would matter. Instead of taking on stress when things are bothering us, practice resilience and try to let them go.
6. Allow mistakes
Let people make mistakes and learn from them. We can do the tactical, day-to-day efforts right or wrong, and it’s still going in the same direction. A customer once became aggressive towards me and I lost my cool.
As I left, I realized I probably said the wrong thing. I emailed the client and got everyone together to explain to everyone how I screwed up. I told them we’d get another chance to win the next one. Six months later, that client spent several million dollars on us and became one of our top ten clients because we admitted our mistake and were persistent in making that relationship right.
Related: Never Underestimate the Power of Adversity: How Hardship Builds Resilience
7. Get advice from great leaders
I recommend every founder find leaders they respect and admire to be an advisor. If no one comes to mind, come to me. I am happy to mentor young leaders because I know how valuable this kind of mentoring has been to me over the years.
One of my mentors, John Chambers, our board member, investor and friend, recently repeated the same phrase to me that he said in early 2020: “This is when successful companies fall apart and the others fall apart.” In uncertain times, seeking mentors for their experience and new insights can be the advantage businesses need.
Uncertainty is the word we use to describe how continuous change makes us feel. It makes us feel weird and we can’t quite control it. To move forward in the face of uncertainty, we must constantly re-prioritize to address what matters most. The more we work on change and uncertainty, the stronger we become to tackle the next. Just take a deep breath, relax and do your best every day.