Leadership in uncertain times: A how to guide for leaders great or small
The following quote is a reminder to us all that even the most experienced leaders cannot predict the future. In uncertain times, it is important to be humble and adaptable. "Only a fool would try to forecast the future." – Mark Twain. Leadership in uncertain times is more important than ever before. Leaders in multinational organizations must be able to adapt to change, build resilience and inspire their teams.

The challenges of leading in uncertain times

Leaders face many challenges, especially in today's uncertain and rapidly changing world. Some of the most common challenges include:

Managing change: Leaders must be able to effectively manage change, both within their teams and organizations as a whole. This can be difficult, as change can often lead to resistance and disruption.

Making decisions: Leaders must be able to make quick and effective decisions, often with limited information. This can be challenging, especially when faced with high-stakes or complex decisions.

Building and maintaining relationships: Leaders must be able to build and maintain strong relationships with their team members, stakeholders, and the public. This is essential for building trust and collaboration.

Motivating and inspiring others: Leaders must be able to motivate and inspire their team members to achieve their goals. This can be challenging, especially when facing setbacks or challenges.

Key leadership traits for uncertain times

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were forced to make quick and difficult decisions about how to keep their employees safe and their businesses running. Leaders who were able to navigate this uncertainty effectively played a critical role in their company's success. 

"The only thing that is constant is change." - Heraclitus. This quote by Heraclitus reminds us that the world is constantly changing, and leaders must be able to adapt to change to be successful. In uncertain times, leaders must be able to challenge the status quo and come up with new and innovative solutions.

Ije Jidenma
Founder, Managing Partner, Kestria Nigeria

‘A world that is perpetually uncertain and unpredictable makes special demands on leaders who must not only be agile in responding to changes but are also resilient in staying calm and focused,’ Ije Jidenma, Founder, Managing Partner, Kestria Nigeria.

Resilience is essential for leaders to succeed in the face of these challenges.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and adversity. Resilient leaders are able to stay calm and focused under pressure, and they are able to learn from their mistakes. They are also able to maintain a positive attitude and outlook, even in difficult times.

Ricardo Nugent
Managing Partner, Kestria Peru

‘While anticipating the future is part of a leader´s DNA, in today´s everyday changing and challenging environment, this becomes critical. It not only requires resilience but strategic vision, empathy and strong communication to keep a team motivated and thriving,’ Ricardo Nugent, Managing Partner, Kestria Peru.

Leaders play a critical role in creating a culture of innovation.

A culture of innovation is one where employees feel encouraged to take risks, share new ideas and experiment. Leaders can create this culture by:

Modeling innovative behavior: Leaders should be role models for innovation. They should be willing to take risks, try new things and admit when they make mistakes.

Creating a safe space for innovation: Leaders should create a work environment where employees feel safe to share their ideas, even if they are not fully formed or polished. This means fostering a culture of respect and open communication.

Celebrating and rewarding innovation: Leaders should recognize and reward employees for their innovative ideas and contributions. This helps to send the message that innovation is valued and appreciated.

By overcoming the challenges they face, demonstrating resilience and creating a culture of innovation, leaders can help their teams and organizations succeed in any environment.

Eimhin O’Driscoll
Director, Kestria Ireland

‘Our clients in the life sciences industry emphasize the importance of visionary leadership as a key trait for navigating the uncertainty and ambiguity of the current market landscape. These leaders anticipate future trends, drive innovation, and inspire their teams toward a common purpose. With a greater emphasis on DE&I, companies are also seeking inclusive leaders who can create workplaces where all colleagues feel respected, supported and empowered. Inclusive leaders recognize the value of diversity and actively seek out and embrace diverse viewpoints, fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration and teamwork. The leaders who will flourish in the future will be humble, with a creative and adaptive mindset and will strive to serve the interests of multiple stakeholder groups, building successful, sustainable organisations where everybody thrives,’ Eimhin O’Driscoll, Director, Kestria Ireland.

Leadership Strategies for Uncertain Times

"The best leaders are those who can see the future coming." - Aristotle. This quote reminds us that good leaders are able to anticipate change and prepare for it. In uncertain times, leaders must be able to scan the horizon for potential risks and opportunities. Here are some leadership strategies for uncertain times:

Create a culture of trust and transparency: Foster an environment where employees feel safe to share their ideas and feedback, and where decisions are made openly and honestly.

Empower employees to make decisions: Give employees the authority to make decisions within their area of expertise and provide them with the resources and support they need to be successful.

Invest in employee development and well-being: Offer employees opportunities to learn and grow and create a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being.

Build a strong team of leaders: Identify and develop high-potential employees and create a culture of collaboration and support among leaders at all levels.

Manveet Hora
CEO - India Business, Kestria India

‘Irrespective of their scale and maturity, best-in-class organizations are looking for leaders who can operate with a startup mindset within an established framework of systems, processes and ethics. While strategic orientation is still key, the ability to get down to brass tacks and relentlessly drive execution is at the forefront once again,’ Manveet Hora, CEO, India Business, Kestria India.

The Role of Executive Search in Finding Leaders for Uncertain Times

Executive search firms with a local and global reach like Kestria, help multinational companies find leaders equipped to navigate uncertain times. The benefits of working with an executive search firm include access to our global network of candidates, our expertise in assessing leadership potential and so much more.

In uncertain times, leaders must step up and demonstrate exceptional leadership skills. This article provides a guide for leaders on how to navigate uncertain times, including how to create a culture of trust and transparency, empower employees to make decisions, invest in employee development and well-being, and build a strong team of leaders.

Steven B. McKinney
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