Embracing Uncertainty

Leadership Challenges


The blog discusses the need to perceive changes as opportunities for growth rather than as hindrances to growth. Also discussed are the ways by which leaders can help employees through times of changes and distress.


To embrace uncertainty is to face the fear of not knowing. It involves analyzing the changing dynamic and then looking for new opportunities that emerge from the change. In essence, it is about changing fear and apprehension to opportunity and growth.

Organizations whose leaders have the ability to embrace change are the ones that surge ahead when others struggle. Leaders who do not fear change are the ones who help their organization live up to and beyond expectations.

So, what should a leader ideally do when faced with a change? The answer to this can be categorized into 6 parts.

  • Visualize the future
  • Guide the employees
  • Help employees handle apprehension
  • Stay grounded and practical
  • Be smart while experimenting with new methods
  • Collaborate and brainstorm

While the above list is not something unique to be applied only during times of change, the above-mentioned factors do become a lot more important in the face of a shift.

Visualizing the Future

This is not a new concept – leaders are constantly envisioning and planning for the future. But when a change is visible in the horizon, a proactive leader acts with purpose and starts planning for the change that could possibly come to pass. There are three steps to this:

  • A dynamic leader starts procuring information about the changing environment from all possible sources. He thinks about the impact it will have on the organization, both short-term and long-term. He starts analyzing how the change can be used for the benefit of the organization while keeping in mind the ways it can harm as well.
  • He reaches out for information from experts and once in possession of the facts, uses his own experience and knowledge to decide on how to deal with the change. But this is not a one-man decision; all stakeholders too are taken into confidence and various scenarios considered.
  • When it is time for action, a smart leader knows that there is always the possibility that he could be wrong. Maintaining humility yet acting with purpose and acknowledging that he might have to change his plan if things don’t go well will always hold him in good stead among his employees.

Guiding Employees

  • A leader will have to guide employees based on the situation that he sees most probable during the change.
  • He needs to set short-term goals and help his employees perceive how their work takes them closer to these goals.
  • The leader should also help them acclimatize to the change and encourage them to act with what they know while not dwelling too much on the unknown. This empowers the employees and helps set them at ease.
  • Even while this is happening, a leader is still aware of the constantly changing environment and is researching on it – he understands that just because they have a plan of action, it doesn’t mean that the change has been navigated through and that the external environment might still throw up something unexpected.
  • If at all the change throws up something unplanned for, the leader helps reassess short-term goals for employees and arrives at decisions that act as solutions to more than one scenario.
  • This kind of agile leadership is what gets organizations through during times of change and disquiet.

Helping Employees Handle Apprehension

  • When we think of employee well-being, most people think of it in terms of job satisfaction and growth.
  • While these factors play very important roles, it is also important that employees feel secure in their work environment.
  • While under normal circumstances itself leaders need to stay connected with employees, during times of crisis, this need is magnified.
  • To manage employees’ fear, the leader has to stay in touch with them and manage their reaction to it.
  • To do this, leaders need to first listen and show empathy. Listening to employees is key to understanding them and their concerns.
  • Once that is understood, the leader can focus on coming up with a solution and can then communicate it to his employees in a manner that gives them hope and reassurance.

Staying Practical

  • While sounding hopeful, leaders need to realize that the change and its effects are bound to be very challenging and they should not end up painting too rosy a picture.
  • A truthful explanation of the scenario along with a plan to manage it (making the employees see the chance for growth in the change) conveyed in a practical manner is best.
  • This promotes an atmosphere of trust.


  • Innovations are necessary to stay relevant. And during times of change, innovations are needed to endure.
  • Extreme changes may need alterations made to the entire business model.
  • If the organization has always promoted an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, employees will find changes easier to navigate.
  • Experimentation should be the norm rather than the exception.
  • Sometimes, a change might end up giving rise to a remarkable innovation which in turn delivers an incredible solution. It is necessary to understand that during times of change, the risk of not experimenting is much higher than the risks of experimenting.
  • A visionary leader will experiment, will encourage his employees to experiment and will prevent stagnation.
  • The organization will as one applaud a successful innovation while learning from another that did not go according to plan.
  • The entire atmosphere should be one of learning.

Collaboration and Brainstorming

  • A smart leader does not let his ego prevent him from talking to other leaders and asking for their views and advice.
  • It is not humanly possible for one person to know all the aspects of a situation.
  • Collaborating with other leaders, learning from their experiences and sharing solutions with one another will not only help the whole organization but more importantly it will spread the message that the change does not have to be dealt with alone.
  • Together we are always stronger. A leader who projects this style of leadership will be a role model for his employees to emulate the same.
  • Burdens are always lighter to bear when they are shared and while every individual still has his own journey ahead, knowing that he is not alone will help immensely.