Leading in Uncertain Times

The most difficult time to lead for many leaders is when circumstances become uncertain. It’s not that the goal has become uncertain, but rather the path to it.  It may be that the situation wasn’t thoroughly planned for, or it may be that the resources or personnel have changed unexpectedly.  Regardless of the reason, there are two ways a leader can respond:

1. Desperation: With this response, a leader’s desire to reach the goal becomes so great that the path loses significance.  A leader that responds this way may use the common phrase as a guide to achieve their goal: “By whatever means possible”.  The advantage to this response is intense perseverance.  The downsides, however, overshadow this advantage.  They include an unhealthy dependence on one’s skill, an often misinterpretation of reality, and a lack of concern for the process.  When a leader responds to uncertain times in desperation, the result can often be chaos, and while the goal may be reached their team will reach that destination somewhat confused.

2. Dependence: With this response, a leader understands the reality of their uncertainty and the immediacy it presents.  With this understanding they lead not out of desperation, but with a confidence and dependence on the one who holds the situation in His hands, God.  While this leader does not move forward carelessly, they do move forward with a knowledge that their uncertain situation is still within the hands of an Almighty God.  This does not diminish the need for diligence, but it does help the leader keep his/her head in the midst of uncertainty.  This leader understands that we can impact the process, but ultimately it is God that controls the outcome. The result of this response is a healthy confidence and calm in a person’s leadership.  This helps a team not feel overwhelmed by the stress of uncertainty, but be able to be respond with flexibility and wisdom.

If you are a leader and find yourself in uncertain times, I would encourage you to respond with dependence, not desperation.

Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

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