Leading in uncertainty

Jim Bouchard is founder of the Sensei Leadership movement and is a sought-after leadership coach.

Over two thousand years ago Pliny the Elder said, “The only certainty is —uncertainty.” 

That’s not a joke. It is absolute truth.

Uncertainty is inevitable. None of us can predict what’s going to happen tomorrow. The most effective leaders, however, have a talent for managing uncertainty, embracing it, and finding opportunity where others see only doubt and fear. 

Be prepared!
The Scouts summed it all up perfectly in just two word: Be prepared! 

The best coping mechanism for uncertainty is to prepare — to the best of your ability — always! Anticipate a wide range of possibilities, and do your best to be ready for them. And this is the first area where uncertainty leads to opportunity. As you prepare yourself for what might be, you’ll discover and perfect new skills, talents and abilities. 

Focus on conditions, not circumstances
Avoid looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. You want to see the big picture. We might not be able to predict specific events, but we can be damn sure about some of the effects!

There will be times when money is tight, when unexpected expenses pop up or when circumstances outside your control drastically alter your economic situation. 

2008 and 2020 were two prime examples––right? Now wee have endemic issues, challenges in the supply chain, the shortage of skilled employees.

What could you do to prepare for these conditions, no matter what circumstances cause them? I mentioned earlier that by embracing uncertainty, it can lead to opportunities. In fact, nothing remarkable ever comes from the status quo. It can lead to complacency and stagnation. There’s no great rush of creativity or inspiration when you’re satisfied with current circumstances. 

Think about it.

Uncertainty often brings new challenges, new dangers and risks. And in facing those challenges, we often find ourselves responding with courage, resolve, and reserve we never knew we had. 

Involve people. 
One of the biggest mistakes leaders can make in challenging times is trying to go it alone. You are a leader. By definition you are not working alone.

Involve your staff––at all levels. Leadership has nothing to do with rank, title, or position of authority. Everyone on your team––everyone––can contribute to leadership. Learn how to transform “ME” into “WE.”

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General Patton

Tell your people what you’re dealing with. See what solutions they come up with. You might be surprised when some of the best ideas come from the most unlikely sources.

When we rise to meet the challenge, we rise ourselves. And as leaders, we can inspire the people we serve to rise to new levels, too. 

That’s fertile ground for innovation, invention and discovery. 

The best leaders find excitement and satisfaction in change and uncertainty. The best of the best even make it happen. 

You can see Jim Bouchard live and in person at Wood Pro Expo California April 27-29.  

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About the author
Jim Bouchard | President/Owner/C-Level

Jim Bouchard is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, executive mentor, and author. His books include “The Sensei Leader” and “Think Like a Black Belt.” You can connect with Jim on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/jimbouchard and contact him directly at [email protected]. Phone him at 207-751-4317.