A break in the clouds

5 necessities to navigate through the change

It has been quite foggy out the windshield for many teams and organizations lately. The last years have been blurry with a fast-moving and often divided world. We’ve experienced differing modes of communication, the expansion of remote workers, a global pandemic, issues of racism, social injustice and equity, political and economic uncertainty, all while continuing the pursuit to maximize the experience, product or service that you are delivering to the marketplace.

The view of the road ahead has been quite foggy for too many.

The best leaders and organizations understand that cleaning off the windshield and the view of the road ahead is a necessity for those who are traveling with them. It is not reactionary, it is proactive. The best team cultures are committed day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out to removing obstacles from the view and aligning their people on the next actions needed for the road ahead.

Leaders often beckon their people to “Trust the Process,” but are surprised or frustrated when people do not just magically fall in line. The idea of “Trusting the Process” is good in theory, but all too often the “process” is blurry due to a lack of clarity on the game plan or the inability of the messenger to communicate the road ahead. Therefore, the “process” is unclear and “trust” is nowhere to be found.

Marketers remind us that it takes seven times for a consumer to hear a message before they take action and the same thing is true for cascading messages throughout your organization.

The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help navigate their people through the fog and to continue to advance the Mission. Here are five necessities to help your team navigate through the fog:

No. 1 — Identify Obstacles
Don’t assume everyone sees or has been willing to be honest about the obstacles, challenges and threats you are facing as a team. Take time to step back as a team and identify the obstacles that lie ahead and assure the team that you will face them together with a solutions-focused mindset.

No. 2 — Reclarify Mission/Vision & Values
Take a step back and make sure people’s sight is clear on the Mission, Vision and Values of your team. The Mission is “why” you are going on the journey that you are on. It is the heartbeat and soul to all your efforts. The Vision is “where” you are heading as a team or organization. It is the dream of what is possible and what can be created together. Paint the picture of what you hope to create that does not exist and what that future Vision looks like. Your Values are “how” you are committed to traveling along the journey. They are the compass that helps you know that you are on track with “how” you’re committed to traveling. Values are not dictated to us, but are discovered, discerned and identified by participatory discussion.

No. 3 — Articulate the Game Plan
It is hard to “Trust the Process” if we are not fully sure what the actual game plan is or the process for moving forward. Take time to articulate the strategy moving forward and why you will approach it the way you are as a team. The strategy is “what” you are going to do proactively to bring the Mission, Vision and Values to life. It is the game plan that clarifies the priorities, people and next actions to bring the dream into reality.

No. 4 — Deposit Trust as the Messenger
Trust does not magically exist between people or leaders and a team. It is bartered every single day by the deposits we make in the relationship over time. Do we do what we say we are going to do? Do we hold ourselves and others accountable for holding up our end of the commitment? Leaders deposit trust by being transparent about the obstacles and what hasn’t been successful and by honoring their commitments. As the messenger, they deposit trust by owning the next stretch of road ahead and jumping in with the team to seek solutions.

Paint the picture of what you hope to create that does not exist and what that future Vision looks like. Your Values are “how” you are committed to traveling along the journey.

No. 5 — Cascade Consistent Messages
As the strategy and game plan becomes clearer, rinse and repeat the message throughout the team and organization. Marketers remind us that it takes seven times for a consumer to hear a message before they take action and the same thing is true for cascading messages throughout your organization. Communicate the game plan over and over and over again and then continue to update the progress being made along the way.

Every time you return to these discussions and seek clarity as a team, the fog does not quite seem so thick. The path forward becomes clearer. Your team may not have all the answers, but they’ll have a compass with clear direction on where to head.

The best cultures proactively help their people navigate their way through the fog, together. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality. The process for developing high-performing and engaged teams never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to setting the temperature in how they hire, onboard, do performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders, and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their teams and how they travel, together.

If you’re experiencing fog, division, negativity, blame, blurry vision, disconnection or uncertainty, it may be time to clean off the windshield!


Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of “Thermostat Cultures,” “ReMember” and “Step Back from the Baggage Claim,” as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. As founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. For more information, visit JasonVBarger.com