How To Be a Good Leader: 10 Ways To Lead in Uncertainty

During troublesome times, we look to leaders to take charge and help their teams make it through the unknown. What’s the key to being a good leader, though? Do expectations change during uncertain times?

To help leaders become as strong as they can be, 10 thought leaders have shared their insights below on how to lead in uncertainty.

“Call Me Bill”

Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is arguably one of the best leaders of all-time. He never let people call him coach. Instead he said, “call me Bill” to any player who tried otherwise. Why did he do that? To level the playing field and send the message that we’re all equals. Great leaders look to bring themselves down a notch to open up the lines for communication. In times of crisis, a leader needs communication that produces collaboration. That type of communication is much easier to have if you’re on the same level. 

Brett Farmiloe, Local SEO Company

Take Responsibility for Shortcomings

Being a good leader means taking responsibility for your shortcomings. It’s not always easy to admit when you are wrong to a team that looks to you for advice, especially during uncertain times, but being candid about why things didn’t work out will allow everyone to learn from the mistake and move on.

Bob Newstrom, Arrow Lift

Patience and Flexibility

The key to being a good leader is to be patient and flexible. We’re all human and we need to remember that our employees have lives outside of work, too. Especially in uncertain times, leaders must be willing and able to adapt to different needs and offer support to those who need it. The best leaders are those who take the time to work with others rather than those who bark orders, unable to show compassion for the people that work for them and what they might be going through. 

Rex Murphy, American Pipeline Solutions

“The Buck Stops Here”

When I think about leadership, the first word that comes to mind is bravery. Throughout the course of just one business day, a true leader may come up against a dozen difficult decisions that require a level head, an educated account of the situation at hand and the willpower to take whatever action is required. This isn’t for the faint of heart. A leader is where the buck stops — so there are no excuses for a project that didn’t make the deadline or poor monthly metrics. A leader must be gracious, and willing to make the client happy at all costs, requiring a good mixture of humiliation and creativity.

Chris Gadek, AdQuick

Encourage Conversations Over Monologues

The key to being a good leader is communicating clearly and often, soliciting feedback and dialogue with others. Leaders don’t need to have all the answers. They do, however, need to convene the resources to find the answers. When people feel valued and able to contribute freely, great things happen in a business. Good leaders listen, acknowledge, show appreciation and encourage conversation as opposed to monologues.

Diane Helbig, Helbig Enterprises

Be Attentive to the Needs of Your Team Members

Attentiveness and excellent listening skills are key to being a good leader. When good leaders listen to their employees’ needs, they learn more about the best productivity-boosting techniques and strategies for their business. Employees are unlikely to leave your company if they have attentive leaders.

Chioma Iwunze, Time Doctor

Circulate Knowledge

Give people ways to freely share their feelings in moments of transition and uncertainty. Personally reach out to your employees. Step out of the office and encourage others to do so. Knowledge of this would circulate and impact the general society in a good way. You really have to be able to connect and communicate.

Lesley Reynolds, Harley Street Skin


During these uncertain times, leaders have to identify areas of growth and be willing to do inner work so they lead authentically. Inner work requires questions, reflection time and honesty with yourself to identify and separate the real you from your inauthentic ego. Ego work is challenging and completely worth it. We are currently living in the physical manifestation of the inauthentic ‘masks’ that many leaders were wearing over the years. When the pandemic is over and everyone takes off their physical masks, leaders that have done the inner work will take off their physical mask and no longer will be wearing an inauthentic mask. Leaders that don’t do the inner work now will stand out in a way they won’t want to.

Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily

Communicate for the Long Haul

Right now people want to know what’s happening with the companies they work for, the people they work with and the possibility that they may need to go find a new job. Be upfront and communicate more than you ever have if you want to keep a good team, employee or company together for the long haul. Once this pandemic is over, only the strong and well positioned will be left standing, make sure that’s you by communicating well every day to your people and your clients.

Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

Recognize Your Employees’ Values

The keys to being a good leader are empathy and vision. You have to recognize that employees are people, with emotions and lives, not robots. Leaders need to be able to relate to their employees and work with them to solve problems while empowering them to do their work. A good leader acknowledges his or her employees’ values and inspires them to succeed through that recognition of their value.

Gwen North, Lake Rabun Hotel