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I don't know. (And that's OK.)

change communication change leadership emotions of change Nov 15, 2022

One of the hardest parts of leading through change is the not knowing.

Transformational change projects are an extended lesson in learning to move through ambiguity.

When done well, clarity emerges out of chaos.

But in between, that's tough stuff for leaders. Standing in front of a room of anxious people when you don't have all of the answers is one of the most important skills of leading through change.

How a leader behaves when they don't have all of the answers sets the tone for the team.

It's OK to say I don't know. 

It's also OK to say I don't know. Yet.

The answers happen over time as the project moves through its phases. Effective communication during a change is different from that used in day-to-day operations in that it shares the answers in an iterative way. 

This is an opportunity to manage ambiguity for both the change leader and change practitioner: Waiting until all of the answers are 100% is waiting too long to communicate. 

It's scary to do that, but with each iterative round, it gets less scary. 

Setting a rhythm to provide updates as answers become more clear establishes trust with stakeholders. It also demonstrates optimism that the team will work its way through the uncertainty, little by little. The ongoing updates delivered on a consistent timetable are a proof point.

I don't know. Yet. But we'll share more when we do know.


Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash 

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