How to follow your leadership path in the midst of uncertainty


Through the epoch of human existence, mankind has discovered many wonders and most of them were through trial and error. The early man who discovered fire must have got burnt a few times before he learnt how to handle it with care. If curiosity is the mother of invention, then uncertainty must be the father. Coupled together, curiosity and uncertainty can bring forth results that can be both wonderful and sometimes, harmful too.

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In this article, however, we’ll restrict ourselves to leaders who harnessed the hidden potential of uncertainty and came out the other side a little bruised, but also wiser, calmer and more self-aware.

Uncertainty does not allow for comfort

Business and politics are economic cousins. The revenues, employment generation, international investments et al, that are driven forth by the leaders of the business world have a direct impact on the socio-economic health of a country. Similarly, the policies devised by political honchos, new tax laws, revised purchase or investment policies have an equally direct impact on the world of business. With political upheaval a constant within the Indian context, the intermediate policy and regulation change throws the business world in a tizzy. Take the case of demonetisation or GST, for example. This anytime-anywhere-anything change keeps the fires of uncertainty burning in the high chambers of business elite. Such irrepressible uncertainty may cause a few to duck under the mounting pressure. But the resilient ones are quick to change their stance and even “take advantage” as Gordon J. Vanscoy, CEO of PANTHERx points out.

Stay on your toes

Einstein once said that problems cannot be solved by the same level of consciousness that created them. Therefore, when a company leader faces challenges of an alien nature, he may want to look through the other end of the peephole to find a solution. Often times, in search of a solution, they may conduct more experiments, initiate more creative ideas that may bring down inexplicable rigid beliefs. Leaders can use uncertainty as an opportunity rather than treat it like an obstacle, because it can keep the mind well-oiled and the feet nimble.

Sometimes, uncertainty can provide a fresh perspective to leaders, wherein they can re-view their entire process of assessment, evaluation and production. Uncertainty may force them to look for solutions where they thought none existed. In a way, uncertainty is like spring-cleaning an office setup; it helps you see dirt that was hidden in the corner along with a chance to fix it.

Connect with your people

According to Simon Hayward, CEO of Cirrus, “When faced with a difficult challenge, it’s tempting to take control back to a small group at the centre of the organisation. However, more sustainable success will come by developing a more ‘connected’, shared model of leadership across the business.”

Uncertainty is not always a bad phenomenon. Our inability to deal with it is what stifles our progress. Leaving things to chance or buckling under stress is what gives it the negative connotation. In fact, it provides a scope for infinite possibilities and the ones who tackle it are the ones who create a niche among their peers. In a company-scenario such people would be the ones who choose to develop an all-inclusive business strategy with their employees. Whether it’s trying to avert layoffs or rebuild a product from scratch, a good leader will choose to shun the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of a hierarchical system and sit down with their team and demand their help and expertise to turn the situation on its head.

Read Also: A how-to guide to leading effectively in uncertain times


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