How to Lead Through Turbulence and Uncertainty with Clarity and Confidence

Enough with the hand wringing.

  • Don’t pretend things are easy when they’re hard
  • Don’t run around with your hair on fire, or you’ll burn out.

#1. Acknowledge challenges.

#2. Communicate with empathy.

#3. Go with your highest point of clarity.

There are a million points of uncertainty that create paralysis.

Find a reasonable point of clarity and act.

#4. Stay present.

Navigate current challenges. Do things that answer immediate concerns.

Don’t plan the distant future.

Drama mongers create anxiety by focusing on the distant future. “What are we going to do when this is over?”

Focus on present concerns.

Figure out the distant future tomorrow.

#5. Reflect on grit.

Think about a time when you worked through difficulty and uncertainty. With a past challenge in mind, ask reflection questions.

  1. How were you creative when you weren’t sure what to do?
  2. What qualities helped you work through that difficulty? How are those qualities relevant today?
  3. How are you different because you worked through past difficulty? How will you be different after working through this difficulty?
  4. What makes you proud when you think about working through past difficulties and uncertainties?
  5. What might you do today that will become a point of personal pride when this is over?

(Employ the above questions for personal reflection. Use them with your team.)

Tip: When using reflection questions with others, make room for silence. Reflection takes time. Don’t interrupt thought.

#6. Listen to your heart.

What comes to mind when you think, “How will we take care of each other and our customers?”

Call your clients:

  1. What specific challenges are you facing?
  2. How is this situation impacting your business?
  3. How might I help?

#7. Avoid long-term decisions.

Flexibility and agility need room to respond.

Don’t lock yourself into long-term decisions when the house is on fire.

What should leaders avoid doing during turbulence and uncertainty?

What serves leaders and organizations well when there’s turbulence and uncertainty?

Bonus material:

7 Ways Successful Leaders Deal with Uncertainty and Chaos (Inc)

4 Strategies for Leading in Uncertain Times (Leading with Trust)

COVID-19: 7 Ways to Lead in Uncertain Times (Great Place to Work)