Leadership Skills for Dealing with Uncertainty

Dealing with crisis and uncertainty is incredibly stressful for individuals at all levels of an organisation. For leaders, this poses the added challenge of needing to assuage fears and provide a sense of stability for their teams. Navigating change can make us doubt our effectiveness as leaders, but it is important that we learn to sit with this discomfort in order to face it. There is a strong connection between each of the skills we have identified as being important for dealing with uncertainty. Each on their own can have a great impact on how teams are led, but it is how they feed into one another that makes them truly successful.

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Communication is the most crucial leadership skill to use during times of crisis. When times are uncertain, people rely on their leaders to keep them informed. Even though we may not always have a perfect answer, making sure everyone is on the same page can be an invaluable relief to those who struggle with unknowns. Equally as important as conveying information with clarity, is listening to the concerns of your team. Often overlooked, listening and hearing what others are saying is key to clear communication. By ensuring that we give others our undivided attention when discussing matters of importance, we demonstrate that we value their time and opinions.


Trust is integral to clear communication. This is especially the case during times of uncertainty. Leaders must not only be in frequent communication with their teams, but that communication requires honesty in order for there to be trust in what you are saying. Great leaders will have already spent a significant amount of time building trusting relationships with the individual members of their team over the course of their working together. Trusting and high performing teams are more likely to succeed at overcoming adversity because their dynamic as a unified group has already been proven.

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Building trust is a large focus of the Dare to Lead™ program, based on the work and research of Brene Brown. She posits that real and lasting trust cannot exist without vulnerability. Throughout the course, participants are invited to ‘rumble with vulnerability’ so that they might gain a deeper understanding of who they are as people and leaders. ‘Rumbling with vulnerability’ is about giving yourself the opportunity to experience moments of uncertainty or perceived weakness. In short, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Leading through times of uncertainty is uncomfortable. Learning how to manage effectively while while leaning into the discomfort is a valuable skill that leaders at all levels should develop.

When organisations face challenges that leave many people feeling worried about the uncertainty of the future, it is up to our leaders to be the driving force that guides teams through such significant change. Of course, the continuous communication between leaders and teams is vital for working through these difficulties. For this to yield successful results for the organisation as a whole, there must also be clarity, trust, and vulnerability. No team will remain productive and continue to deliver exceptional results if their leaders are not willing to be honest with them. By embracing all three of the leadership skills discussed above, the uncertainty and ‘what ifs’ will be much more readily overcome.

For more information about The Leadership Sphere and how we can help you unlock performance through leadership, by supporting your leaders at every level of the organisation with leadership development, executive coaching and high performance team programs please visit our website or call us on 1300 100 857.

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