Being a leader today in the midst of a pandemic is like operating inside a video game; in order to get to the next level and rack up points you have to slay the dragon, find your way out of the maze, and scale the wall before you are pelted by fireballs. And if you fail at any of these tasks, you are sent back to the beginning only to have to do it all over again. However, if you are lucky enough to be successful, you are rewarded by getting to the next level where the challenges are even more difficult.
If you have played video games, you know that it takes a certain level of learned confidence to stay in the game. But you also know that you are the most vulnerable when you are the most confident. That’s because the minute you let your guard down, you are likely to miss the threat that is right in front of you.
Handling the COVID-19 crisis is no game to be sure. And fear—our own and other’s—is real and is not likely to go away any time soon. We would love to have some of our old confidence back and get a break from the pressure of dodging landmines. And we desperately need some certainty in our lives. But because that may not be forthcoming, we need to learn to lead with confident uncertainty. In order to do so, we need to follow these maxims:
- Know that you are the most vulnerable when you are the most confident, so fear can be your ally.
- If you know something is likely to fail, fail quickly and adapt immediately.
- You will feel afraid. Feel the fear and lead anyway, remembering that your greatest potential is often straight through your biggest fear. *
Then ponder these questions and take the appropriate leadership action.
- What is no longer working that needs to change?
- What’s one promise you need to make?
- What’s one risk you need to take?
And then remember this quote from Ambrose Redmoon:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
*Groeschel, C. (2020, August). GLS2020 Session notes: Leading through the dip. Global Leadership Network. https://globalleadership.org/articles/leading-others/session-notes-leading-through-the-dip/