Uncertain times can be stressful and unsettling. As leaders, we have the power to lead through uncertain times with confidence and grace — whether it’s in our workplaces, homes or our hearts.  

Denise Mills, The LeaderFuel Center, and Robin Sterneck, Highland Birch Group, recently facilitated a discussion about Leading through Uncertain Times with the Central Exchange community. They shared how we can engage with other leaders and grow through this time of uncertainty. 

How will you lead yourself, your organization and others through uncertain times?


For many of us, it seems like the past few months have felt somewhat like a rollercoaster ride. You may be uncertain of what the future holds and could be thinking: “What do I do now?” It’s important to keep in mind that you are the same leader with the same tools you had before this crisis. 

Shock, paralysis, recovery, and learning are all stages of uncertainty. We are all in different stages on the uncertainty spectrum, and that’s okay. How should leaders react to uncertainty? As Robin explains, “The goal is to get people through hard times and into recovery because recovery is the sign of tomorrow.” 

Recovery is a positive sign; it means that we are moving forward again and that we have successfully improved the situation, made specific changes, and we have leveraged the noise that is going on around us. 


“In times like these, mindset is everything,” Denise says. When you don’t know what’s around the corner, maintaining a resilient mindset is vital. Mindset will help you navigate critical decision making now and the days ahead. Shifting your mindset starts with self-awareness. When you catch negative thoughts, turn them into positive thoughts. As a leader, you cannot control global events, workplace changes or the economy. Control what you can — starting with your mindset. Here are some mindset shifts to get you started: 

  • This is unique — and we’ll figure it out
  • We’re all in this together
  • I’ll continue to do my best and add value


In the midst of busyness, stress, and the four levels of uncertainty, take a step back and give yourself and others grace and think about how you can become a leader through these uncertain times. Practice expressing gratitude for the positive things in life. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How can I position myself to be as resilient as possible? 
  • How can I add value to my company? What do we need to do for our people? 
  • What new habit can I practice over the next 30 days? 
  • What can I gain from this experience?


With a focus on recovery, a shifted mindset, and gratitude practice, we are able to grow and develop during these uncertain times. “We have to stop, reflect, and understand that this crisis is not what we chose, but we’ll learn and grow and be better people,” Robin says.

Utilize this season to practice empathy, emotional intelligence, crucial conversations and truly listening to those around you. And have grace for yourself. Strong leaders ask for help. Now is a great time to step up, lean in and lead with courage during these uncertain times. 


Denise Mills and Robin Sterneck are co-facilitators for the Central Exchange Emerging Leaders program. Emerging Leaders is an 11-month deep dive, equipping women leaders with the tools, resources and hands-on experiences to become the best leader they can be. Applications for the 2020-2021 class of Emerging Leaders are now open. Discover more here