3 Principles of Leading Under Conditions of Uncertainty


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We are entering a phase where there is a lot of uncertainty. There is a consensus building up about an impending recession. There is a lot of flux within businesses. There are some sectors that are laying off people and at the same time struggling to find the right people to hire.

The general tendency of the people towards work is shifting. Some want the flexibility of working from wherever and whenever and some want the benefit of the serendipity of bumping into colleagues at the water-coolers.

On top of all of these are the new capabilities that technology, specifically, advanced Artificial Intelligence brings to the table and the impact it could potentially have on the people, processes and the products of businesses.

All of these micro and macro environmental changes mean that there is a lot of uncertainty in the minds of all those who are charged to lead their teams and organisations.

Here are three key principles that could help us deal with the uncertainty and at the same time move us forward.

Celebrate Uncertainty:

That which we fear, terrifies us. Once we name the fear, acknowledge it and even celebrate its presence, the power it holds over us reduces. So, it is a good idea for us to celebrate the uncertainty that we experience today.

When we reframe this uncertainty as the possibility or unrealised potential that we can benefit from, we change the energy that we use to deal with the uncertainty. This shift in energy has a significant impact on what we see. We are more likely to spot the opportunity that results from this uncertainty and hopefully capitalise on it.

It is a well known and documented phenomenon that some of the most iconic businesses are founded in the most uncertain of times.

Play with the Uncertainty:

One way to find the opportunity hidden within the uncertainty is to play with it. Create and explore multiple hypothesis of what is possible (Thinking in Bets is a great book to read and learn from). Based on what you learn, run simple but important experiments to further understand the results.

As Jim Collins says, shoot some bullets to find out the extent and the quality of the opportunities and to find that which is certain within this veil of uncertainty.

Once you have found something interesting to explore, start shooting cannon balls or commit more resources to double down on the experiments and repeat the process until you start exploiting the opportunity.

Double down on fundamentals:

In any given uncertain situation, there are still things that are certain. These are universal principles like taking good care of your existing customers/suppliers/partners/employees, creating a culture which supports the growth and development of your employees, being open and transparent about the situation with your employees, taking care of your cash flow (first survive, then thrive), etc.

These are things that are crucial for any business to take care of all the time. They become even more critical under conditions of uncertainty. The mistake that most leaders make when they face uncertain situations is they get so focused on dealing with the uncertainty that they lose sight of the fundamentals. It is not the uncertainty that might kill them but their lack of focus on the fundamentals might.

In Conclusion:

In conclusion, I only have to say that we are living in a time when the amount of uncertainty we will face at any given time is only going to increase – both in quantity and in velocity.

So, if we want to thrive in these conditions, we need to build the mindsets and the skillsets to help us deal with the uncertainty in ways that it helps us break new ground rather than hold us back.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at http://rmukeshgupta.com.


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