Does anybody actually enjoy turbulence? I’m willing to bet we’d all say no. Years ago I took a flight from Chicago to San Antonio with terrible turbulence the entire trip. It was the only time I contemplated using the barf-bag for its intended purpose.
We’ve probably all heard the captain come across a loudspeaker and say something like “Howdy folks, we’re lookin’ at some nice clean cruising up around 30’000 feet, but we’ve gotta wrangle a tough ride in order to get there. So sit tight and we’ll do our best to get everyone comfy again as soon as possible.” (Ok, maybe you haven’t heard that exactly, but you might if you flew out of the South.) As long as we believe he’s looking for better conditions, we’ll cut him some slack and appreciate the safe landing.
Bottom line is, nobody likes turbulence, but we’re willing to endure it if we know it’s necessary and temporary. In a manner of speaking, all leaders fly “planes”.
You may not have wings, but you have people, and they’re trusting you for the ride.
More than once I’ve had to key the handset and tell my team “we’re in for some turbulence”. Maybe it’s a change in direction, an increase in expectations, a compressed schedule, a new system, whatever – it’s all turbulence. And no matter how necessary and healthy the turbulence is, sometimes you just have to steady the plane. Even the best get weary of nonstop jostling around, and a lull in the chaos is often all that’s needed to rejuvenate and refocus our energy.
While I’ve never struggled to make decisions that result in a bumpy ride, I DO have to remind myself to steady the plane. It feels unproductive and boring, but it’s as necessary as the turbulence if we want to lead well and take care those we’re flying.
Are you naturally a turbulence creator or a smooth sailor? Neither is wrong, but neither is perfect either…