Leadership Development: The Art of Managing Controllables

Leaders are individuals who consider the bigger picture in the great scheme of things. A major part of leadership development involves the ability of developing what lies within control, and diverting attention away from ungovernable concerns. 

The recent pandemic and its ramifications (i.e. the remote work exodus) fall in the category of the latter. Few (if not none) business continuity plans would consider the possibility of a black swan such as the Coronavirus crisis. 

The first step towards handling unpredictable situations involves optimising the “constants” in management structures. And to achieve that, leaders must learn to identify the key areas within their control. Here are some ways of managing controllables as leaders.


Communication is a recurring focus in any leadership development course. Ideas, instructions, and expressions are all exchanged and revised with communication. 

In fact, the recent rise of Zoomraids and Zoombombings are a result of an influx of online users scurrying for communication. This led to the videoconferencing site lacking the capabilities of scaling up their security in meeting the demands (which has since been mitigated with patch updates in Zoom 5.0).

Organisational leaders should constantly evaluate and improve communication among workers and clients regardless of the situation. This means seeking out various ways of keeping in touch via digital channels. Organisation should also consider having a backup communication platform to ensure minimal disruption if primary channels are compromised. 


Security has always been a workplace priority regardless of the global situation. In the digital age, this has largely translated into cybersecurity. Phishing, DDoS (distributed denial of service), robocalls, and ransomware are some of the most dreaded hazards on the modern web. 

A great leader must ensure that employees are kept protected at all times. Cyber hygiene is a buzz term these days, referring to the routines and practices of employees towards cybersecurity.

Leadership development courses should cover basic data management. These should span practices such as logging out of systems when not in use and avoiding cached passwords. As such, leaders should work closely with their IT team (or outsource to an expert) to discuss and create the safest working arrangements for the company. 


Employees need to feel that the struggle during tough times is worth it. Organisational leaders can achieve this via various approaches. One-time incentivised packages are good for the short-term. 

However, leaders should turn to more meaningful staff outreach programs for lasting positive results. In order to achieve this, leaders must understand the specific needs of each worker – ranging from childcare needs, to self-growth opportunities. 

A workplace culture that prides in staff welfare will result in reinforced teamwork and loyalty to weather through storms of uncertainty. 

The art of managing controllables may draw parallels from the concept of achievement goal theory in sports. An athlete who is task goal-oriented focuses on controllable internal conditions to succeed (i.e. breathing techniques), while individuals who are outcome goal-oriented focus on matters beyond their control (i.e. the performance of others).

In nearly all instances, goal-oriented individuals are more likely to stay optimistic and high-functioning than their outcome-oriented counterparts. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in empowering leaders by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you want to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, feel free to reach out to us here.

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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