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In our current world, filled with uncertainty and change, we need a more flexible and agile approach to business leadership. Here are eight ways to lead in these challenging times.

It’s no secret that things aren’t the easiest in the business world right now.

Inflation and rate rises have battered business confidence across the globe. Often, the instinct is to ride out the storm until better times return.

But what if the prevailing economic conditions aren’t simply a blip on the radar? What if change and uncertainty are the new norm for business?

In the past, leaders have been relied upon to steer their workforces through the inevitable ups and downs of business by implementing clear, purposeful and effective policies and plans.

The best leaders have traditionally nailed these business competencies, but these skills were built for an era of stability. They are no longer working.

Here are eight ways to lead in times of change and uncertainty.

1. Confront an Uncomfortable Truth

Things might not get better, at least for the foreseeable future.

This reality check is a powerful tool for a leader. But you should lean into these tough times. When you accept a new, challenging reality – like the proverbial pebble in your shoe – the journey becomes easier to bear.

Doggedly pushing through in the unfounded hope that the tide is about to turn is exhausting and a recipe for failure.


2. Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

Accept that the skills that have made you a successful leader in the past will not necessarily work today.

You will need to be flexible, dialing up or down different aspects of your personality and leadership style to suit the times.

This can be difficult to do because, in times of change and stress, we default to the familiar. We are comfort-seeking creatures, but getting outside our comfort zone is exactly what we must do to adapt and grow in these challenging times.

3. Adopt a Growth Mindset

Seeing every challenge as an opportunity is always important, but never more so for a leader navigating uncertain times.

Yes, career setbacks can be embarrassing and deflating, and there are myriad tripwires in the current business climate. But failure is the most powerful catalyst for progress.

Twenty years down the track, a stumbling block encountered in a turbulent 2024 may turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to your career.

Reframe this apparent setback as an opportunity to reflect and learn, a key decision point and the push you need to propel you forward. Many of life’s great successes are preceded by painful failure. It’s all dependent on the way you decide to view the challenge.

4. Lift Your Eyeline

It takes deliberate reflection and self-awareness to see greener pastures when there’s chaos all around.

Perspective is the first thing we lose in a volatile environment. And before we know it, we’re running around like we’re playing a game of Whac-a-Mole – reacting, rather than leading with vision and purpose.

Reactive leadership, endlessly responding to short-term crises and issues as they arise, is not conducive to a high-performing workplaces. It is also the root of stress. Stop, remember why you are in your role and what the long-term goal is.

5. Conduct a Pre-mortem

When Special Forces soldiers embark on a mission, they look ahead for potential risks and ways to mitigate them. As a leader, with a clear eye on the long game, anticipate potential landmines and where possible, find ways to pre-emptively diffuse them.

6. Be a Changemaker

Change will happen with or without you, so embrace it with full enthusiasm. Or leave. Don’t be a passenger or a victim. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control your response. As a leader, you set the tone for your team and they will pick up quickly on any reticence in you.

7. Raise Your Standards

Your job as a leader is in part to energize your people, especially during times of change and uncertainty.

Do this by stretching them with new or expanded roles that are meaningful, impactful and play to their strengths. Provide them with meaningful challenges and encouragement.

8. Prioritize Self-care

We often neglect exercise and the things that make us healthy humans when we are under pressure. To be an effective CEO and leader you need to be a healthy human first. High-quality sleep, regular exercise, eating right and finding space for yourself should be non-negotiables.

Hoping that difficult periods pass is a universal and essential element of the human experience. Yet it is by embracing the possibility of failure that we empower ourselves to grow.

Coming to terms with the challenges presented by the current business climate and developing a novel strategy to overcome them is how you and your team will outlast tough times.

Amos Szeps

Contributor Collective Member

As a seasoned psychologist registered in the United Kingdom and Master Coach with the International Coaching Federation, the highest level of coaching accreditation available, Amos Szeps’ specialist areas are CEO and top team coaching during periods of turbulence and change. His style is bold, transforming and highly relational. Amos applies a relentless focus to the delivery of real-world business outcomes while ensuring the process remains spontaneous, human and fun. He is also a certified end-of-life and grief coach, and dedicates one day a week to serving his local community in this capacity. For more information visit https://www.peoplemax.com.au/amos-szeps

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