Leadership in uncertainty
2020 has presented the world with a series of similar and status-quo altering experiences at a blistering pace. So when BuiltIn asked us for insight on leadership during uncertainty, we asked Julie Larson-Green, our Chief Experience Officer, what she could share.
As a leader, you are a person people in your company turn to for answers. Who are you looking to for motivation and support? What advice do you have for other leaders who are walking into a world of uncertainty?
I’ve always looked to the managers who are running the teams to motivate me at the same time as I am motivating them. I focus on listening to my team’s concerns and sharing mine so we can have a common understanding. Together, we are setting short-term goals. It’s crucial that it is a collective effort because my role is to help them remove the blockers they consider most important to keep things moving forward. Instead of speculating on what could happen in the future, our focus is on what we can do today.
I also turn to my advisors — my friends to bounce ideas and get their insight. Many have been through different uncertain situations — while building, growing and running companies, dealing with financial crises when funding is stalled or the business is struggling to meet its goals. This is the time in which you need to rely on the people in your organization and in your network, because they will provide you with ideas on how to address the challenges. The best ideas can come from anywhere. Look for ideas that bring empathy and are practical so that you are able to make the tough trade-offs that help employees and the business.
Instead of speculating on what could happen in the future, our focus is on what we can do today.
Seattle is a strong tech community. How do you think we can help each other in times of uncertainty? What specific advice do you have for the tech community - not just to other leaders or your team, but to our industry at large?
Overall, we need to continue to focus on technology that will help rebound the economy and can have social impact. Consider how your technology can help businesses and people address the issues we will be facing in this new era, and what you can afford to provide at low- or no-cost that will help companies move forward in the downturned economic climate. At Qualtrics, we are focused on experience management and we have implemented a remote work pulse solution that companies are using to understand and improve the experience gaps employees are experiencing, so that they can help them and keep their businesses on track. Think about what your tech can do to enable businesses and people to reduce the impact of temporarily closing their offices, or even their doors.
Over the coming weeks and months, what concerns are you anticipating from your team? How are you addressing them?
I am expecting the unexpected — concerns such as how will we maintain the stability of the business and what actions will that require. If this type of remote working situation continues, how will we accommodate everyone’s different needs? How do we adjust our engagement with our customers and partners in this new era? Right now, we are addressing immediate questions about how to support people who don’t have the proper infrastructure to work remotely, people with children at home and no plans for schools to reopen soon, how do we continue our implementation conversations with customers in a virtual environment? Our co-headquarters are based in Utah, so we are also dealing with employees affected by the recent earthquake there. We are taking each issue one at a time, and anticipating the challenges and planning potential solutions. We are also being as transparent with the information we have and we plan to continue to do so.
The best advice I can give everyone is to be understanding when it takes a moment for people to respond. Many times we are considering a lot of conflicting information and verifying with stakeholders to make sure we provide the best possible response. At the same time, be cognizant that people need to make decisions based on your guidance — it’s a good thing to say, “I hear you, and we are working through how to address this situation. I will respond as soon as possible.” Open communication both ways, proactive outreach and being open to new ideas are crucial.
To read more from other business leaders, you can find the whole article on BuiltIn Seattle.