Uncertain Times Call for BOLD Creativity in Leadership

Our world was thrust into mass uncertainty almost instantly.

Most of us didn’t even see it coming. As a result, mass panic and confusion reigned.

Yet values-based, authentic, and compassionate leaders will maintain their steady course and rise above and beyond this crisis to emerge stronger than before.

They already realize that this, too, will pass, and it will have been the catalyst to spark new thinking, bold ideas and truly, a new world.

“It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.”

-Dalai Lama

Calm Leadership During Uncertain Times

Mike Robbins, writing for Forbes, summed up leadership during uncertainty in a simple analogy.

When we are flying, there are times the plane experiences turbulence. Most times, the pilot announces beforehand that the plane will be experiencing a bumpy ride and asks the flight attendants to take their seats until they get through it.

As a result of his message, when we experience the turbulence, we (hopefully) are not panicked. We are reassured by the leadership of the pilot.

If he did not announce the expected bumpy ride, we would have white knuckles from gripping our armrests. (Ok, maybe some of us still might…)

Effective and authentic leaders follow this analogy in their careers – and especially during these unpredictable times. Like putting an oxygen mask on ourselves first – before our children – leaders need to be the pilot during confusing, uncertain times.

How can we come forth as authentic leaders in times of crisis? Robbins suggests:

  1. Integrate self-care. Not only for yourself, but also so you can show up as your best self for others.
  2. Maintain continual communication, a key in times of crisis to cultivate a cohesive team and a sense of community.
  3. Get personal. Bridge communication gaps by reaching people on a personal level, which shows your care and concern.
  4. Flex those mental muscles. Listen to everyone, be open to new ways of doing things. Don’t automatically say no.
  5. Let authenticity shine. When we lead authentically, we let others know we’re in this together and we WILL rise above.

The Mental Process of Authentic Crisis Leadership

During this time of crisis, we have already begun to see true leaders emerging. Take Jacinda Ardern, for example.

True leaders continually let the public know what is happening, they listen to bold, new, imaginative and innovative ways to do business, to educate and to live. They have vision – and holding.

What is holding? Gianpiero Petriglieri, writing in Harvard Business Review, describes holding as the way a person, usually an authority figure, contains and interprets what is going on during a crisis.

And what is containing? The ability to soothe distress and help others make sense out of a crisis. An effective leader will reassure his employees and inform them how the company can get through. The leader thinks clearly, reassures and guides everyone to bond together.

Petriglieri notes that while holding is not often recognized as a trait of leadership, as vision is, it is as essential. A study of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico revealed just that. As the company responded to and recovered from the crisis, top management had different reactions to the spill. While some lost faith in the company, others – those exposed to management who had upbeat messages – strengthened their commitment and resolve to the company.

For those working closely with one’s boss and fellow employees during the crisis, the response was more containing. It reassured employees about the company’s principles, integrity, and future growth.

“Being held as we work through a crisis, the study concluded, is more useful than being told how bright the future is.”

Leading and Moving Forward During Uncertainty

Leading with values-based leadership is a strong foundation for navigating through a crisis. Those values areas include:





Remember how crucial it is to continually communicate with your team. In a Forbes article, author H. V. MacArthur suggests the following topics:

  1. Acknowledge what you know – and what you don’t know.
  2. Share your thoughts about the current crisis in a calm, reassuring way.
  3. Describe your plans to make things better and ask for honest insight.
  4. Keep employees engaged; let them know what is needed from them.

What is, has been before. Authentic leaders realize this. And they will lead the way to a more effective and creative way of doing business.

“The future is uncertain…but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.”

-Ilya Prigogine

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