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6 Ways to Lead Courageously in Uncertainty

Carley Hauck June 11, 2020

As a leadership development consultant and executive coach, I’ve specialized in helping leaders navigate crisis situations, re-organizations, embracing change, and courageous leadership.  

In my work with hundreds of leaders and many different organizations from LinkedIn, Pixar, Genentech, Clif Bar, Bank of the West, and high growth start-ups, I’ve discovered there are a few internal “inner game” qualities that support leaders to thrive during challenging times. The cultivation of these 6 leadership qualities can make a leader out of anyone.  

Be Present

In uncertain times and when big changes unfold, it is important to stay grounded and present.  Many of us are feeling distracted and we can bring our attention to what is most important by concentration practices.  Take life one day at a time and keep asking yourself: 

What can I control? 

How do I want to show up?  

What is needed now? 

What is my biggest priority? 

Who am I connecting with today? Who can I check in with today? 

I have had a meditation and yoga practice for the last 20 years. I wake up every morning and have different variations of embodied practice that include yoga, dancing, meditation, and singing kirtan. I practice for 30-45 minutes. My morning routine has been invaluable to my ability to be present and surf the waves of uncertainty, show up courageously for my clients, friends, and family. 

Growth Mindset

The hallmark of courage is the mindset of “I can”. When we view all life and even challenges as an opportunity to grow new skills and advance with new experiences, we are embracing a growth mindset.  Fear is the first feeling we will experience when we perceive something as a challenge. If we can meet the fear, feel it, and allow it to pass, we can step out of paralysis and into courage. When fear is here, we know we are about to grow. Being willing to step into the unknown is being courageous.  A great question to facilitate a growth mindset. 

 What can I learn about myself and others today?  

Emotional Intelligence

Our ability to be a courageous leader depends on our capacity to be with and navigate the big feelings that arise amidst the waves of changes we experience.  The 3 big feelings of fear, sadness, and/or anger appear most when challenge or uncertainty are here.  Emotional feelings live in our physical bodies, so it’s important to be mindful of our feelings, give them room to exist, and then we can come back into balance and lead with more presence and resilience. The invitation is to name what feelings you experience and shake out the difficult feelings with a sound or movement.


We are all in this together.   As leaders we can convey a powerful message when we say to our colleagues, friends, and family,  I see you, I hear you, and I understand your fear and uncertainty. This simple but essential acknowledgement creates more trust, psychological safety, and motivation from your team members to support the project or the creative solution at hand.  

Self Care

As we are all navigating working from home, it’s important that we find a rhythm, nourishment, and healthy boundaries to support us to thrive during this time. Here are some helpful questions to answer: 

What do I need to thrive today?  

How am I getting outside today in nature?

What movement would feel nourishing and energizing for my body?

What foods will give me the most energy today?

When am I disconnecting from technology? 

How can I surround myself with more positive energy in those I interact with (friends, family, co-workers)?


Transparency is more important than ever right now as it creates more psychological safety, trust, and connection with our remote teams.  When there is greater uncertainty, we want more details, not less. As a leader, your capacity to step in the ring first with authenticity and vulnerability is key to fostering more personal connections with your team amidst this virtual environment, and deeper connections with your friends and family. To lead with authenticity, you want to check in daily or weekly and gauge the emotional pulse of how everyone is navigating this new environment. Since everyone is figuring out this new normal it is important  to create some simple safety agreements to support more transparency and authenticity in your remote and distributed teams:

I show up as a caring person.

I welcome all voices, perspectives, and experiences into the space.

All feelings are welcome here. 

People feel I have their back.

With transparency comes trust. In this environment of uncertainty, the more safety, the more trust and Brave ExchangesTM we can have with everyone in our life, the more effective our communication will be. When we lead with authenticity and vulnerability, we reduce the feelings of fear and support a “We” vs. “Me” attitude. By coming together, we can solve the problems at hand in our workplaces and our world.   

When we master these inner game qualities, we can thrive and lead consciously and courageously in uncertain times.  

Author Offer

Would you like to create more focus, motivation, and effective communication with your team members? Would you like to adapt wisely to new challenges instead of reacting impulsively? Would you like to build more connections amidst a remote work environment and world? Join a small cohort of men and women who want to learn the skills to navigate this new world with focus, resilience, courage, and breakthrough.  To learn more about this wonderful offering click here to begin your journey into courageous leadership during uncertain times.

Social Entrepreneurship / Stakeholder Capitalism
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