If you want to succeed as a leader today, you need to get comfortable, and more importantly knowledgeable about uncertainty. You know the phrase keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, when it comes to how leaders need to treat uncertainty that applies. While you may not like it – you need to embrace uncertainty and integrate it into your leadership strategy.
See the biggest myth about uncertainty, the biggest lie we tell ourselves that uncertainty will end or that it is going away. Uncertainty is not only here to stay, but the chances are that the pace and impact of it are going to increase.
And you need to be asking yourself as a leader, are you ready, are you prepared?
Now, before you put this article down because you are getting depressed, just hold on. The truth about uncertainty is that it is far more complex, and contains far more opportunity than you give it credit it for, and the deeper you understand uncertainty the more you can make uncertainty work for you.
Why You Don’t Like Uncertainty
Just writing the word in this article, and I can feel you as the reader pulling back. And I get it, there are so many reasons you don’t like uncertainty.
- Lack of Control – not knowing makes you feel out of control, fearing what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and what impact it is going to have.
- Threatened – uncertainty takes away predictability, and as humans you are wired to desire security. Pretty much uncertainty is the opposite of security – and when something you want is taken away you naturally feel threatened.
- Stress – and as if a lack of control and the feeling of being threatened does not cause enough stress, add in loss of routine, mental overload and self-doubt. Uncertainty produces a stress machine.
- Avoidance – now I think the biggest reason you do not like uncertainty is because you avoid it. Rather than face what is uncomfortable, you choose to ignore it and not deal with it. Your avoidance though is like a nagging voice in the back of your mind, always there reminding you that at any moment the ball could drop or a major disruption could destroy your best-laid plans.
So, yes there are strong and valid reasons why you do not like uncertainty, but not strong enough reasons not to learn to navigate it. Imagine for a moment that you believe that uncertainty led to opportunity. What if you bought into the idea that disruption, even the most challenging, was just what you needed to transform your organization? How far could you go? What could you accomplish? If you believe uncertainty was a competitive advantage.
3 Truths About Uncertainty
- Uncertainty Is Inevitable – as we said, uncertainty is going to happen no matter what you do. Don’t believe it, take a walk through history and look at all the uncertainty that impacted the leaders coming before you. Uncertainty is coming whether you want it or not, and it comes in all shapes and sizes – economic, health, technology, competition, customers and the list goes on.
- Uncertainty Produces Fear – left unaddressed, meaning as a leader you do not talk about it, plan for it, engage your team in it, uncertainty will produce one emotion – FEAR. Now, you can probably guess you do not want fear in your organization, but let me share with you exactly why. Fear shuts down innovation and creativity – the very skills needed to navigate challenging times. Fear causes team members and customers to disengage and pull back. All of that is going to negatively impact bottom-line results.
But if you have a plan for uncertainty, if you have a strategy you will drive innovation, drive engagement, and yes that’s right – drive results.
- Uncertainty Always Has An Upside – let’s go back to that walk through history, while you will find that uncertainty is inevitable, you will also find that uncertainty, disruption and massive change have led to some of our greatest breakthroughs and inventions in society – groundbreaking transformation in medicine, technology, communication, and the list goes on.
So what are you waiting for? You know more change is coming, and if you fight it you will lose and lose big. If you jump on board, learn to navigate uncertainty successfully, and start to predict the future. You will turn all of this uncertainty into your greatest competitive advantage.