Leadership during Turbulent, Complex Times

Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity. Let’s love turbulence and use it for change. —  Ramsay Clark

I’m involved in coaching engagements with several leaders who are managing large workloads, leadership team pressures, and complexity.  I’m also finding I must take care to manage turbulence and complexity in my own work day.

Only Water by Maistora - Flickr Mike Jay, whose work I’m currently following on the coaching circuit, has written extensively about leadership including helping leaders respond to situations that are difficult and complex. 

For this post, I’m featuring a leadership focus tool from Mike Jay.  Mike suggests that any leader can focus on 5 things and be successful in trying circumstances, no matter what the situation. His Big Five use acronym IMULL:

  • Importance
  • Motivation
  • Urgency
  • Leverage
  • Low-Hanging Fruit

Mike cautions that IMULL is more difficult than it looks because there are “layers” of complexity within each item that must be viewed simultaneously.

Importance: What really matters? Are you working on what is really important?  This first one might be the most challenging. 

  •  Ian Clarkson writes about Mobility across Detail, that is, when a manager is faced with a variety of details, mobility across detail helps the manager sort through these choices to select the ones most relevant to a given situation.  It is also about prioritizing efforts to ensure that they focus on both the short-term an the long-term, on the important and the really important, including all those who have a stake in and can make a contribution to improving and sustaining performance. 

  Clarkson says that achieving high levels of mobility across detail will assure that the right actions are being taken by the right people at the right time.

Motivation: Where’s the energy? Motivation is about using what gives you energy and your willingness to turn that free energy into productive results.  A leader may have identified what is importance and urgent, but without motivation–energy to get things moving, the Ferrari is sitting at the start line and nothing happens.

It’s good to continue to checks for importance, urgency and motivation in coaching leaders.

Urgency: What has to get done now? Distinguish urgency opposed to crisis.  If crisis is caused by ineffective planning (urgency untended), than the leader has fallen victim to creating a tyranny of urgent.  Avoid the mistake of confusing the two, plan for the urgent to avoid the crisis.

Leverage: Where is the most to be gained? To get the most out of those resources requires leverage.  What can you, as a leader, apply energy to get the most return?  Where can your energy make the most difference?  This also relates to the Mobility across Detail listed above.

Low-hanging Fruit:  I’ve heard many senior leaders talk about quick wins this way during early implementation. 

Where can I get the most success with an economy of energy?

Ferrari-by-Marcomagrini - Flickr

Ferrari-by-Marcomagrini - Flickr

Low-hanging fruit that is important, urgent, motivating, with leverage speeds that Ferrari , with skill, to the finish line.  Of course there are boundaries:  moral, ethical and legal.  These will test and tempt leaders (and those who really aren’t leaders) to take short-cuts which are inappropriate.  We’ve seen this on display with some of our local, large corporate and national leaders. I’ve also found IMULL personally helpful in sorting through the mountains of decisions and details to be managed leaving my 30 year career at the University of Michigan and fully engaging in my Reveln Consulting work. Let me know if IMULL resonates with you, from your own leader experiences.

Thanks for visiting and joining in the on-line mutual learning community. Comments enrich the conversation.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commonslicense.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Leadership during Turbulent, Complex Times”

  1. […] The “mobility across detail”concept is further described within the context of the post:  Leadership during Turbulent, Complex Times […]

Leave a Reply