There is so much change impacting our workplace, our personal lives and our community that it creates uncertainty — whether a project can be completed or whether a leader is capable of doing his job.

People feel under pressure to perform, frightened by the constant change and feel like they are slowly sinking into quicksand. It becomes almost impossible to keep up.

The best leaders approach uncertainty with supreme confidence. They may not know for sure what the outcome is going to be, but they go for it and often they get the result they want.

There are three steps that underpin confidence and sustain leadership direction in times of change:


Set expectations

Setting expectations is about creating a standard of behaviour or outcomes that you want from your staff. It is one of the fundamentals of a good leader, yet many fail to do this properly. 

Setting expectations first requires a plan — the more time you spend on the plan, the more effective the outcomes. You must be able to communicate well with your staff, and clearly articulate your vision in a way that can be heard and understood.

Next, set a framework and clarify who is responsible for what — this specifies boundaries on appropriate behaviour, best use of time and productive work. By establishing responsibilities, your staff can get on with their specific tasks within the framework you outlined.

Finally, set motivating goals that support your key initiatives and are aligned with the overall goals of your organisation. This will power your team forward almost effortlessly.


Encourage your staff

Encouraging your staff is the next key factor to keep moving through the quicksand. It can be as simple as remembering to say, “Hey, good job, Michelle”.

If you catch your staff doing something right and tell them they did a good job, you appreciate what they have done.

Knowing that they feel appreciated can make a huge difference in your employees’ outlook and output. They will have more positive thoughts and actions toward you, their team and the goals you set for them.

Encouragement can take many forms, with the simplest being a personal verbal compliment. Other forms can include offering a bonus or incentive, a promotion, or perhaps honouring their work at a staff function.

Be careful with bonuses and incentives; make sure you are empowered to offer the bonus if it is cash or kind. Make sure you have the budget and the authority to offer such incentives.

With the challenging economy, creative managers will find a way to encourage their staff and reward them in a way that doesn’t cost their organisation a lot of money. 

Harness energy

Harnessing the energy of the individual can be challenging, as each staff member is different. One of the biggest challenges is finding the right way to get “on board” with your staff. A good way to do this is to recognise that everyone is different. 

The Platinum Rule Profile was invented by Dr Tony Alessandra from San Diego and helps to analyse individual behavioural styles. Based on the Platinum Rule, “Do unto others as they would like done to them”, the focus is on the individual and on leaders changing their behaviour slightly to get alongside them and acknowledge their individual energy and talents.

Once you recognise the individual, you can allocate work specifically for him and harness his productivity in a way that energises him and brings positive outcomes for the team.


Article by Lindsay Adams, a leadership expert, international speaker with Training Edge International and international president of Global Speakers Federation (2009-2010). E-mail him at or visit