How Uncertainty Works


Uncertainty invites participation.

Exploring ideas, finding solutions, and innovation demand vigorous participation from all players. The best teams win when players bring their best.

Your attitude secretly signals participants to open up and bring their “A” game or clam up and play it safe. Uncertain leaders create safe playing fields where everyone participates.

Negative power of certainty:

Players don’t bring their best game when leaders are certain. They posture and search for the “right” things to say. “Right” things always align with the boss’s thinking.

Speak humbly when you feel certain.

  1. I think we know (insert what you know). The term “think” invites participation.
  2. We aren’t sure about (insert uncertainty factor here). The expression “We aren’t sure” invites participation.
  3. I’m sure we need to (insert certainty factor here). Let’s explore the steps that take us there. “Let’s explore” calls for conversation.

Strength and uncertainty:

Uncertainty isn’t viral hand-wringing. Strong leaders are certain their teams can find solutions. It takes courage, skill, humility and strength to be uncertain with confidence.

Small doses of uncertainty are the path to certainty. Strong leaders use uncertainty when they listen, accept, explore, and adapt.

How can leaders express uncertainty in ways that create confidence in others?

When might uncertainty have negative impact?


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