November 2

Leading Through Uncertainty

Welcome to the age of uncertainty, a time when there is more happening outside of your company, than inside that it can impact your success.  In this marketplace, one of the greatest ironies is that there is so little you have control over, but as a leader, you have never had a bigger impact.

What you say, how you act, what you decide, and how you communicate will determine if your company succeeds or struggles. If your team engages, or they become uninvolved. Yes, leadership does matter that much, and it is the single most crucial factor in determining your ability to emerge successful in any challenge.

The good news is that leadership is a skill that can be taught, and leaders can be developed and strengthened, even amid crises. The bad news is seventy-seven percent of organizations report they are experiencing a leadership gap. And only ten percent of CEOs believe their leadership development programs are effective.

In times of uncertainty, as a leader, you need to focus on developing your skills and those around you. Successful leadership comes down to clearly understanding what you are doing well, what you are doing wrong, and what you need to change.

Let’s Look at the 4 Biggest Leadership Mistakes You Are Making Now and How You Can Avoid Them.


Lack of Vision – You’re not painting the picture for your team of where your company is headed and how you will get there. You may understand what that looks like; you may have a plan, but until you have articulated your vision, your team is not clear on where to focus and how to work together towards a common goal.

SolutionLead to the Positive Point. There’s a great story about a group of kids headed on a white-water rafting trip. They spent a year planning the event, and just two weeks before they were supposed to go, there were torrential rains in that area. So much rain, the normal class two and three rapids became class four and fives, therefore making the river dangerous to run. But kids being kids, they begged until the guide finally gave in, but on one condition that these kids sit through a three-hour safety talk.

These kids listened for three hours as the guide talked about the high water, downed trees, and rocks – every obstacle they would encounter. But the guide spent three times as long talking about what she called the positive point – where the raft needed to end up.

She explained that as important as knowing where the obstacles are, it is more important to see where your boat needs to go. Too much focus on the rocks will ensure your boat hits them but focusing on the positive point (your vision) will pull your boat like a magnet to where you want it to wind up.

It is the same in your company – you need to paint the picture, show your team a positive point, and define the vision of where you are going.


React to Change – You’re probably wondering why reacting to change is a mistake, right?  I mean, isn’t that what you as a leader are supposed to do? Well, sort of. If you want to lead your team through a crisis successfully, you can’t wait for change to show up; you need to see it coming, anticipate it, and change before change requires you.

Solution –In other words, you need to Condition Your Team for Change. Change is like a muscle, and the more you talk about it, think about it, and engage in it, the stronger your change muscle will be. It would be best if you put change at the top of your list to regularly discuss and help your team anticipate the changes coming in the marketplace.

The more you engage your team in “change conversations,” the more prepared they will be, and the more action they will take. As a leader, your job is to keep your team aware of the shifts coming in the marketplace and keep them flexible enough to turn uncertainty into opportunity.


Not Invested –There is so little you can control in today’s marketplace, but one thing you do have control over is your team’s quality. The stronger the people around you, the more engaged they are, the more innovative, creative, and results-focused your team will be. If you’re not prioritizing and investing in building a quality team, you are working with one hand tied behind your back, and you’re giving your competitors the ultimate advantage.

SolutionStrengthen Your Team. It would be best to focus your time and energy on building and developing the team around you. This job cannot be delegated, cannot be outsourced, and needs to be your job as CEO. Creating a culture that attracts the best and the brightest ensures they are as passionate as you are about the growth of your company. Focusing on your team’s engagement and talent level will provide a committed workforce, but it is the fastest path to an exceptional member experience and bottom-line results. It is truly the only competitive advantage you have left.


Inwardly Focused – doing the same things you did before uncertainty hit and using your organization’s internal success as a gauge for what it takes to thrive in an uncertain marketplace. This was the downfall of companies such as Blockbuster and Kodak. They were so inwardly focused they failed to understand that their goals and internal measures were no longer effective in the marketplace.

SolutionShed Fast and Keep Moving – you need a way and a plan to objectively look at your company on at least a quarterly basis and ask yourself. What is working in the marketplace, what is moving us forward, what do we need to be doing more? What isn’t working, what is holding us back, what do we need to stop doing? Lastly, what do we need to be doing that we are not doing?

Again, these are challenging times, and more is changing outside of your company that can impact your success. It would be best if you had a strategy to lead your team to focus routinely on how to adjust their plan to remain successful.

As leaders, we are always going to make mistakes. There is no roadmap or one right way to lead successfully through a challenge. But the more you work to develop your leadership skills and understanding of what it takes to emerge successful, the more your team will engage, the more your board will support, the more loyal your clients will be, and the faster you can turn uncertainty your competitive advantage.

Voted One of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to Watch by Currency Fair, Meridith Elliott Powell is a business strategist and leadership expert who help her clients learn the strategies they need to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage. For free tools and resources, and more information on how to emerge successful, visit 


adapt, attract and retain talent, business and team coaching, competitive advantage, effective leadership, Pandemic, succession planning, talent development, Thrive, Thriving in Uncertanity, vision

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