Three Keys for Creating Certainty in Uncertain Times

Let’s face it: every day brings news of distressing levels of COVID-19 in various parts of the world. Social structures are being questioned, challenged and toppled. Businesses that were legacy are folding. Think J.C. Penney, Nieman Marcus, J. Crew, Chuck E. Cheese, and my favorite... Pier 1. From the hospitality industry to oil exploration, disruption and potential demise are possible.


For anyone in a leadership position, the ability to craft solid ground in white water times becomes paramount. (By the way—everyone has a leadership position because everyone has a sphere of influence. Likewise, Dee Hock, founder of VISA, always insisted that you must first lead yourself if you ever hope to lead others.)


“Certainty”, in face of today’s world, is “an ability to be counted on'. In other words, a leader can’t be certain what the stock market will do or who might win an election. But, as a leader of others and oneself, there are three keys that offer certainty and a knowledge that the leader can be counted on:


Offer candor over charisma. Candor is the ability to be open and honest in expression. To be trustworthy, we need to tell people what we see and feel rather than what is expedient and soothing. Today, we turn to folks like Dr. Fauci who plainly lays out what is the current status with Covid-19. Wishful thinking and fairy tale platitudes damage both credibility and certainty.


Speak with truth. Courageous conversations form the basis for courageous cultures* (as outlined by Karin Hurt and David Dye in their newly released book by the same name). That individuals can speak without fear of retribution is HUGE. It invites certainty that an organization can forge ahead with ideas for improvement, for customer support, and for innovation.


Focus on what you can control. The first and easiest way to establish control and certainty is with one’s physical body and physical surroundings. For example, determine what exercise you can do for certain: walk, run, yoga, etc. Eat the foods that you know offer strength and vitality. Organize whatever part of the “office” you control. Whether it’s a kitchen counter, a spare bedroom, or an actual office, you can and do control that corner of your world. Own it and organize it.


“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.” - Ursula LeGuin


*Courageous Cultures: How to build teams of micro-innovators, problem solvers, & customer advocates. Karin Hurt and David Dye. Harper Collins, 2020.


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