6 Tips for UK leaders to access "Clear Thinking in Turbulent Times”

As I talk to UK business leaders, it’s clear that many are highly concerned with the current political situation in the UK. The unknown is making minds wander, causing anxiety and uncertainty. Here’s 6 practical tips on how you can keep a calm head when all about you may be losing theirs.  

1. Mind your thinking. 
Our minds can get really carried away. If we just watch the news for a few hours, it’s enough for anyone to feel depressed. In this situation, our minds are prone to do two things (without us realising it) that really don’t help us. Firstly, our thoughts wander onto many 'what if' scenarios… what if person x becomes Prime Minister, what if there’s significant cost inflation, what if customers stop spending, what if my foreign staff can’t stay in the UK... a vast array of thoughts flood the mind. The second thing that seems to happen very easily almost without us realising, is that our thoughts then easily wander to solution mode based upon all the ‘what ifs’ we’ve made up. We begin to come up with solutions, many of them being quite radical… ‘I’m going to move to Canada’, ‘I’m going to downsize’, ‘I’m going to stop the big IT project' and so on. I say... be careful in this time. Your thinking is over-thinking, you may well have strong emotion, so you shouldn’t trust what you think. We have no idea if and what the full impact of Brexit will be yet, so stay grounded, and notice your mind getting carried away on the various implications, but let those thoughts go - most of what you’re thinking probably just won’t happen anyway. 

2. Nothing is any different. 
Prior to 23rd June, you already were operating in a market of constant change, unknowns and curveballs. Business has been uncertain & changing for years. Sure, there are a few more curveballs right now, but fundamentally the change dynamic is the same. So keep operating the way you’ve been operating. The same qualities that have got you this far, will continue to work.   

3. Keep people calm 
In a group, when everyone is over-thinking about Brexit, the sense of fear skyrockets out of control. By talking about the situation and all the possible ramifications in the UK and in your organisation, we make it worse for each other. Your organisation needs you to stay calm and to keep your people calm. Prevent their minds from wandering, keep them informed at all times, and focus on them on what we know, what is fact. Focus them on today, on the now, and have them take one day as it comes.      

4. Trust your wisdom.  
In such a situation, we spend all our time looking outside. We read and watch the news more regularly to see what will happen in government, with the economy, in our market. Whatever happens in the outside world, go inside yourself for the answers and rely on that going forward more than you ever have. Trust your wisdom & your intuition. And remember to do so, only when your mind is quiet. 

5. Plan ahead, explore opportunity 
If you’re able to live by steps 1-4, then with a clear mind it’s important of course to plan ahead and manage the various risks that your organisation may face. Risk management is an important part of leading any organisation. Discuss the various scenarios that might occur and plan how your strategy to navigate through them. And remember, in this changing country, there will be an abundance of opportunity for you. Think (and encourage others to think) openly, creatively, opportunistically. 

6. Measured decisions
It’s easy to make rash decisions based on poor logic or strong emotion. Make sure that decisions you make, especially those with significant ramification, are made with a good state of mind and are very well-considered.

Written July 2016 by Martin Palethorpe