The Myth of Certainty

Decades of financial management and the need to provide some indication of a company’s future worth and ability to retain or attract investors have contributed to the myth of certainty. While there is no certain future, legions of financial controllers and heads of businesses have rolled up their sleeves quarter after quarter to deliver on market expectations, often encouraging a short-sighted view of the enterprise’s operations. Despite regular disruptions in our work life (the 2008 economic crisis, mergers, being sold, being laid off…) this ability to deliver market expectations may have created an illusion of control that has been shaken by the Covid-19 crisis.

What Is Leading?

John Kotter, in his book “Leading Change,” says: “Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.” There is no mention of a certain or uncertain future, there is the future to be designed, a future that “wasn’t going to happen anyway,” which future would be given only by the circumstances. The environment in which we lead may be one we can’t control, however, we can create the conditions in which leading can emerge, in which new thinking to invent that future can emerge and in which individuals are inspired into action.

Who Are You Leading?

This may seem obvious. Yes, who we lead are human beings. In large organizations, you lead human beings who operate inside of a complex adaptative system. When leading individuals through uncertain times inside of such types of systems, question your actions and the conversations you engage in:

  • Am I shaping the environment such that the people I interact with are left empowered?
  • Am I creating a future with them that is compelling and bold, and calls them to be bigger than themselves?
  • Am I encouraging them to be unstoppable in the face of the circumstances while allowing for their full self-expression and well-being?

Share with us what has worked and where you may have stumbled over the past months. We are all on a journey of discovery and learning.


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