One of the areas I have been wrestling through in the last several years, is observing how people lead in the face of uncertainty. There are certainly some people who take the course of “Deactionary Dreamers” (The Path Of Delusion). In spite of the uncertainty, they tell people what they want to hear. For a while, it seemed to me that leadership required deluding oneself into delivering what there was no way you could promise. Being deluded is one thing, but deliberately lying often looks almost exactly the same. Either way you’re either not being competent or clearly lacking integrity.
The flip side of this is to be a transparent leader, allowing all of the uncertainty to pass through to those being led or sold (investors, your team, your customer). Even against all odds, people are looking for someone who can make sense of the world around them. When you pass the uncertainty through to those being lead, you’re not leading at all. This also lacks integrity as it is not taking responsibility for the charge at hand. Dealing with the uncertainty IS the leaders problem.
In conversations about this with several others, they struck the balance that is best described as having faith in what they are committing or indicating. They don’t know how they will make it happen exactly, but they have confidence that they can make it happen. This doesn’t mean hiding obvious problems or risks, but it means communicating them in an appropriate way.
As I continue thinking about this, I find this model to be more appropriate for how a leader should deal with uncertainty while maintaining their integrity and competency. It reflects that you are committed to seeing the enterprise succeed and will work to fulfill the commitments they are making even if you don’t know all of the details just yet.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.