For Founders
How to Lead Your Company With Confidence, Compassion, and Strength During Uncertain Times

How to Lead Your Company With Confidence, Compassion, and Strength During Uncertain Times

Written by 
Pilot Team
March 23, 2023
How to Lead Your Company With Confidence, Compassion, and Strength During Uncertain Times

When it comes to leading, there will always be times of uncertainty. During those times, the real challenge is figuring out how to lead from a position of confidence, despite the environment. In this article, we'll discuss how to confidently lead your team through uncertain times—even if all you have is hope for tomorrow's success.

Strategies for Leading With Confidence in Times of Uncertainty

1. Know Your Limits

Take an honest assessment of yourself. Determine how much (or how little) you trust yourself and your abilities so that you can know when to step up and when to step back. This will help you make better decisions, leading to better outcomes for yourself and your organization.

Some reflective questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling?
  • How justified am I in my beliefs about a certain situation?
  • Is my reasoning logical or emotional? 
  • Have I weighed all of the pros and cons of the situation? 
  • What are the potential consequences of acting on my beliefs?
  • Would others be in agreement with me, and if not why not?
  • What information do I need to consider before making any decisions?

It's natural to want to fix everything, including what you realistically can't. However, as driven, resourceful, and resilient as you are, you are still only human, and as humans, there are certain things beyond our control, e.g., market forces. That's why focusing on what you can control is essential—not other people, events, or outcomes.

Meet with your fellow founding team/executives and key employees and assess what obstacles are in the way of your company and identify what is within your power to change (now or in the near future) and what you cannot impact or accelerate. Then, take actionable steps to resolve the things you can and stop worrying about the things beyond your control; it will only serve as a distraction.

2. Practice Situational Leadership

The good news is that you can retain some control of your environment when you practice situational leadership. Situational leadership is a flexible approach to leadership based on the idea that the best way to lead is to understand and adapt to the needs of each situation. It considers the individual characteristics of the people you lead, recognizing that each has different strengths and weaknesses, interests, goals, and priorities. 

It also recognizes that situations change over time—and so should your approach as a leader. What is uncertain today may not be tomorrow, so don't overreact to the current conditions. Instead, be flexible, agile, and pragmatic.

3. Lead With Compassion

As a leader, you will have many opportunities to be a mentor to your employees. Times of uncertainty represents one such opportunity. During uncertain times, it's essential to be empathetic to your employees; they may be experiencing fear and anxiety about the future of their jobs or even their whole company. You can help them by being compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

  • Understand that fear and anxiety are normal reactions when people feel threatened by change or uncertainty—and they're most likely to occur when there's a lack of information available to make sense of what's happening around them (or if they've never been through something like this before).
  • Be aware of how you communicate with others during these periods: Are you giving off positive energy? Do people feel comfortable coming up with ideas around you? Are they willing to share concerns or ask questions without feeling judged by others? If not, consider making changes so everyone feels safe within their roles at work so they can get things done and express themselves fully without fear of negative consequences.

4. Communicate Confidently and Transparently

It's essential to communicate uncertainty with confidence and transparency. Influential leaders can express their personal and company uncertainty while navigating stressful situations. If you're leading a team experiencing change or uncertainty, be honest and tell everyone you understand how difficult it can be. Reassuring your employees that their concerns are valid will help them feel more comfortable to open up about what they need.

Compassion allows everyone within the organization (and beyond) an opportunity for growth and learning when everything seems up in the air—which ultimately leads to tremendous success as long-term goals come into focus again after some time and the dust of uncertainty has settled.

5. Plan for the Future

One thing you should take away as a leader during times of uncertainty is that there will be more such times in the future. That's the cycle of business and all the surrounding factors that impact its performance. So the best thing you can do as you navigate uncertain times today in all the above ways is to plan for the future.

As you begin planning for the future, remember that you may still need to learn exactly what future challenges will be and when they will occur. Nonetheless, by preparing yourself now and establishing processes and systems that allow you to adapt quickly to these unknowns, you can thrive during times of change rather than survive them.

Planning requires understanding where you are today and where you want your business to go tomorrow. This means reviewing current goals and objectives and identifying opportunities for growth within those areas, such as new markets or products/services offered by competitors with whom you currently don't compete directly today but could do so down the road.

6. Inspire Others With a Positive Attitude

As a leader, you are a role model for the people in your organization. You can inspire others by leading with confidence and positivity in your own life, so: 

  • Be an encourager. Your positive attitude will help you encourage others to do their best work and feel good about themselves. Be sure to praise them when they accomplish something, offer constructive criticism when needed, and give honest feedback if someone needs improvement in communication or teamwork.
  • Be a good listener. Listening is just as critical as speaking because it helps build trust between team members, which is vital for building strong relationships within organizations. So make sure that when someone comes up with an idea or a potential solution to a problem, pay attention and ask follow-up questions, so they know that their opinion matters too.
  • Be calm. Your employees and stakeholders look to you as a compass for their attitudes toward your company's future. That's why you should always be aware of your demeanor—if you panic, they will panic; if you keep calm, they will likely follow suit.

Characteristics of a Confident Leader in Uncertain Times

During times of uncertainty, do your best to embody the following leadership traits:

  • Be a role model. You are the leader; your employees always look to you for guidance. Keep this in mind in how you carry yourself (words, actions, body language), especially in challenging times and situations.
  • Be authentic. You should be able to lead confidently in times of uncertainty because your mind, abilities, and leadership skills are the reasons for your success, not external factors or outside influences (e.g., luck, timing, or market conditions). Stay true to yourself instead of worrying about what others think about your leadership style or choices while leading your organization toward success in uncertain times. 
  • Be firm but fair—a healthy balance between strength and compassion: Support is necessary when working under stressful conditions where everyone needs help getting through difficult situations together. 

Leading with confidence and strength is a key skill for any leader in times of uncertainty. It's important to remember that even though you can't control the future, you can still plan for it. The best way to do this is by being flexible, listening to others' advice, and making pragmatic decisions, based on your values.

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