Leadership in Uncertain Times

Alex Pollock
March 18, 2020
Crisis leadership
We find ourselves in uncertain times. A deadly virus has impacted the daily lives of nearly everyone on the planet. Who would have thought that in a few short weeks, our routine could have been uprooted so dramatically.

In all of this uncertainty, as we yearn for assurances, what do we know for sure? Well, as history tells us, it's in time like these that true leaders emerge. Typically, they demonstrate compassion, stability, trust, hope and inspiration for the days ahead. They are our lights in a dark place. Studies of the lives of men and women who shaped history, as documented in "Profiles in Leadership" (Alan Axelrod, 2003), revealed some leadership lessons that are valid in this trying time and will be just as applicable in the future. 

Timeless Leadership Lessons

  1. Optimism does not mean fostering delusions. Present all difficulties frankly and fully.
  2. Face the truth and speak the truth. Honesty is the best policy.
  3. Build a team of the best available advisors.
  4. Know when to ask for help.
  5. Empower others.
  6. Act decisively. Often a good solution now is better than a great solution later.
  7. Keep plans flexible. Be open to new data.
  8. When a problem surfaces, fix it. Don't cast blame.
  9. Never give up.
  10. Facing difficult realities does not require pessimism.
  11. It's never a bad leadership choice to advocate for what's right and just.
"Leadership is action, not position."
— Donald H. McGannon (1920 – 1984), broadcasting industry executive

About the Author

Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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