Leaders may think being “sure of things” helps them succeed.

But if they do, they may be harboring an outdated view of leadership.

The way we think about leadership has evolved. So what’s different this time?

What’s changed about leadership and certainty?

Being certain carries with it the connotation of not engaging others in the conversation and using a one-way communication.

It evokes images of an iron fist pounding on a desk, not a leader who enjoys “working beside” a talented and diverse team.

Imagining a leader who’s “certain,” we may think about someone who operates as a lone wolf or someone who is holding fast to an outdated world view and refusing to adapt as the world changes.

Certainty may have once been considered “a good thing,” but in the workplace of today, leaders need to adapt.

And adapt fast.

The quest for uncertainty

Whereas certainty is “out,” uncertainty is the new hallmark of great leadership.

Uncertain leaders ask more questions and engage more stakeholders.

They see value in dialogue and in the somewhat messy but always interesting process of learning.

Uncertain leaders know that the minute they become “certain” and unwilling to adapt to change, they are at risk of making an ethical mistake.

When is certainty a good thing in a global environment?

While uncertainty is hallmark of great leadership, there is one thing leaders should always be sure about in a rapidly changing global context.

It helps them navigate the uphill terrain of perpetual uncertainty.

What is it that they should be sure about? Their values.

What do you think about certainty and leadership? How can getting comfortable with uncertainty make us better leaders? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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