My last few blog posts dealt with our predictable New Year’s “Silly Season” filled with useless forecasts and predictions. This multi-billion dollar industry is built around our deep insecurity about dealing with uncertainty. But life doesn’t come with any guarantees and nobody knows what triumphs or tragedies await us around the next corner of our journey.

Here are some profound insights and powerful research on how strong leaders deal with uncertainty:

“Maturity of mind is the capacity to endure uncertainty.”
– John Finlay

“(The best leaders) are comfortable with uncertainty. They understand the constant flux inherent in their job and business. They know that what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow, and optimistically view uncertainty as fuelling the fires of creativity. They turn the anxiety that accompanies change into productive energy for moving forward.”
– Research by Robert Rosen at Healthy Companies International after interviewing 300 CEOs and top executives in over 40 countries on the five key characteristics of the best leaders

“One large telecommunications company, for instance, uses swarm intelligence technology (named for the way insects pass along information and modify their behavior to fit the environment) to capture what its many employees are hearing and seeing…turned hundreds of employees into informal sentries, warning the company to react to changing competitive conditions.”
– “Be Prepared,” Leonard Fuld, Harvard Business Review

“In truth it is our doubts, not our beliefs, that inspire us to go beyond rote acceptance and comfortable conformity. It is our doubts that prevent us from accepting half-truths and safe havens of security…doubts make us question and search; they force us out of bed and into battle; they refuse to let us sleep.”
– Harry Moody & David Carroll, The Five Stages of the Soul: Charting the Spiritual Passages That Shape Our Lives

“…true leadership often lies in knowing how to embrace uncertainty. The research suggests that when companies fail to recognize the importance of uncertainty, employees disengage from the organization’s efforts. Leaders who get the best results combine an ability to set inspiring goals and a willingness to admit that they don’t know exactly how to accomplish those goals. It turns out that people working for managers who openly express uncertainty and who seek employee input in resolving ambiguous challenges are more satisfied with their jobs, more committed to and less cynical about their organizations, and more likely to identify with the companies they work for.”
– Katie Sweetman, “Embracing Uncertainty,” Sloan Management Review

“Fundamentally, the world is uncertain…so what is the key thing you can do to prepare for that uncertainty? You can have the right people with you….what’s your greatest hedge against uncertainty? Having people who can adapt to whatever the mountain throws at you…”
– Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great