Leading During Uncertainty

Back to Blog

I was 7 years old, when my dad said, “I am sure we will get across the bridge.” I kept seeing signs that read, “Weight Limit 9000 pounds.” I was scared.  I figured that with all our luggage and the weight of our van, that we would fall right into the Colorado River.  If you look closely at the picture below, which I took on a recent summer vacation, you can see that this bridge was made of planks that went across the suspension bridge.  As we approached the bridge, I became more frightened and yet my father pressed on.  I was struck by my father’s confidence and calm during a time of uncertainty.  We eventually made it across the bridge, but my dad thought it would be exciting to stop in the middle of the bridge and look down at the Colorado River.

As a leader your presence instills one of two things – chaos or clarity.  Chaos comes from a leader that struggles with their internal theatre.  Their mind is a filled with anxiety, fear and ego, which conveys the same to their people.  Often, leaders that have not dealt with the drama from their past or current state bring this story to their business.  It is not always bad, in fact leaders that have not dealt with the past use their story to drive results.  They wish to get as far away from their story as possible and this can instill chaos.

Clarity comes from a leader that is clear on who they are and what they value.  They have done the hard work of reconciling their past to ensure their cause is clear.

To instill clarity, consider these three questions –

1.) What is it that you truly value? Consider a values exercise to identify what is important to you.  I value passion, learning, family and relationship.

2.) Where is it that you are going? This is your ideal future.  Wave the magic wand and determine what it is that you truly want to see occur and communicate this again and again with your team.

3.) How do you want to be remembered as a leader?  This is about legacy.  Fast forward to your retirement party, what are they saying about you?

Your employees are right there in the van with you wanting to get across the bridge.  You can instill chaos or clarity.  The choice is yours.  It is true what Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said (Paraphrase) – Between stimulation and response is what determines our leadership.