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Leaders can help teams navigate uncertainty and embrace change by fostering resilience, open communication, and strategic planning.

Navigating Change with Resilience: The Role of Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

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  • Post last modified:February 3, 2024
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Leaders can help teams navigate uncertainty and embrace change by fostering resilience, open communication, and strategic planning.

The realm of leadership is often characterized by constant change and uncertainty, necessitating leaders who possess the resilience and adaptability to navigate these challenges effectively. In times of uncertainty, leaders play a pivotal role in inspiring, motivating, and guiding their teams through uncharted territories. This article delves into the significance of leadership in uncertain times, exploring strategies and practices that enable leaders to navigate change with resilience.


Role of Leadership in Uncertainty

Leadership is a complex concept that has been studied for centuries, but there is still no consensus on its basic meaning. It is often contrasted with management, which focuses on control and stability, while leadership is associated with direction-setting, change, and persuasion. There is a vast amount of literature on leadership, with thousands of books and articles available for sale. However, the more research is done on leadership, the more complex it becomes, and there is a lack of incremental progress in understanding it. Leadership is seen as a crucial aspect of organizational success, as it involves shaping an organization’s culture and creating patterns of success. Personality plays a role in leadership, and it can be used to select future leaders or improve the performance of current leaders. (Owain et al., 2016, Norm, 2012, and Robert, 2005).

1. Steadfast Vision and Direction

In times of uncertainty, leaders provide a clear and compelling vision that serves as a beacon of hope and clarity for their followers. They articulate a compelling future state that inspires and aligns the collective efforts of the organization. As author John C. Maxwell once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” In times of uncertainty, leaders play a crucial role in guiding their followers towards a shared vision, instilling confidence and direction amidst ambiguity.


2. Embracing Change as an Opportunity

Rather than shying away from change, resilient leaders view it as an opportunity for growth, evolution, and innovation. They embrace uncertainty as a catalyst for transformation and adaptation.


3. Open Communication and Transparency

Effective leaders foster transparent and open communication channels, ensuring that their team members are well-informed and engaged in decision-making processes. This transparency builds trust and confidence, fostering a sense of unity and cohesiveness within the team.


4. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

Resilient leaders possess a high degree of emotional intelligence, enabling them to understand, empathize with, and respond to the diverse emotional states of their team members. They create an inclusive and supportive environment where individuals feel safe and empowered to share their concerns and ideas. As American poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Resilient leaders understand the importance of emotional connection and prioritize creating a positive and supportive atmosphere for their team members. By doing so, they foster trust, loyalty, and a sense of belonging that fuels collaboration and drives success.


5. Building a Resilient Team Culture

Leaders cultivate a team culture that emphasizes resilience, adaptability, and innovation. They encourage a growth mindset, empowering team members to embrace challenges and learn from setbacks. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Sun Tzu. Resilient leaders understand that challenges and uncertainty present a chance for growth and innovation. They seize these opportunities to inspire their team members, foster a culture of resilience, and drive success.


Strategies for Leading Through Uncertainty

1. Promote Psychological Safety

Leaders create a psychologically safe environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment or retaliation. This fosters a culture of open dialogue and innovation. As American author and management expert Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” In times of uncertainty, leaders have the opportunity to not only navigate through challenges but also shape the future by taking bold and decisive actions. By doing so, they inspire their followers and create a sense of empowerment and ownership in the collective journey towards a brighter tomorrow.


2. Adaptability and Flexibility

Resilient leaders are highly adaptable and flexible, demonstrating the ability to pivot quickly in response to changing circumstances. They embrace agility as a core leadership competency, enabling the organization to seize opportunities and mitigate risks. For example, resilient leaders are able to quickly assess the situation and identify the best course of action, whereas traditional leaders may be slow to react and miss opportunities.


3. Encourage Learning and Skill Development

In uncertain times, leaders prioritize continuous learning and skill development for themselves and their teams. They recognize that adaptability and resilience require a commitment to lifelong learning. As Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Resilient leaders embody this philosophy, understanding that continuous learning and skill development are essential for adaptability and success in an ever-changing world. They inspire their teams to embrace a growth mindset and prioritize personal and professional development, creating a culture of resilience and innovation.


4. Cultivate a Growth Mindset

Resilient leaders possess a growth mindset, believing that abilities and skills can be developed through effort and perseverance. They encourage their teams to embrace challenges and view setbacks as opportunities for growth.


5. Effective Decision-Making in Ambiguity

Leaders navigate ambiguity by making informed decisions based on the available information while acknowledging the limits of their knowledge. They seek input from diverse perspectives and are willing to adjust their decisions as new information emerges.



Leadership in times of uncertainty demands resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to empowering others. By providing a clear vision, embracing change, fostering transparent communication, demonstrating empathy, and cultivating a resilient team culture, leaders can navigate uncertainty with resilience and guide their organizations towards success. Effective leadership during periods of ambiguity requires the ability to make informed decisions, promote psychological safety, and embrace lifelong learning. Leaders who possess these qualities inspire confidence, foster innovation, and enable their organizations to thrive amidst uncertainty.


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David, J., Michael, G. Rukstad. “Can you say what your strategy is?2008,  Harvard business Review, 86, no.

Norm, Smallwood. “What is leadership? ” I.A. in global leadership, 2012. 936.

Owain, S.J., Clare, H., J., S., 2016. What is leadership. The Routledge companion to leadership.

Porter, M.E., 1996. What is strategy.

Robert, B.Kaiser. “What we know about leadership, 2005. Review of general Psychology, 9 no.


Elphas Sipho Mdluli- MBA Areas of Expertise Business Leadership – Operations Leadership – Financial Management – Process Optimisation – Decision Making Stakeholder Engagement – Project Delivery – Organisational Strategy – Relationship Management – Negotiation Skills Strategy Development – Change Management – Relationship Building – Team Empowerment – Performance Improvement Critical Thinking – Systems Thinking – Strategic Planning – People Management – Business Administration Executive Summary As a meticulous, driven and people-oriented professional, Elphas is motivated by ensuring the achievement of organisational goals. He is fuelled by improving business performance, whilst his all-embracing skillset has enabled him to successfully execute projects across various platforms. His career has presented the effective delivery of solutions, leveraging expertise in financial, operations, administrative and business processes, as well as the management of integrated transformational projects. Elphas thrives in complex environments where strong leadership is required to drive business performance. As a highly focused and participative leader who believes in effective teamwork, he prides himself on his innate ability to connect with and lead stakeholders across all levels of an organisation. With a dedication to continuous improvement, Elphas has completed a vast range of courses, including currently completing his Doctor of Business Administration, building upon his MBA, Bachelor of Ministry degree and Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting, to mention just a few. Career Summary Elphas has built his career on a strong academic foundation across a diverse range of areas, including accounting, management development, ministry, finance, corporate governance, risk management, behavioural intelligence, leadership and business administration. He is a Business Leader, an Author, a Lecturer and a pillar within his community. His diverse roles have shaped his skillset and his early roles consisted of Chairperson and Senior Pastor for Christian Liberty Centre and Branch Officer for Select Management Services before moving to Sibonelo Savings and Credit Cooperative Society as Accountant, Manager and then General Manager. In 2013 Elphas spearheaded the start-up of Life Solutions Investments, an organisation providing Training & Consultancy as well as leading operations of a Block Yard. He has also been contracted by Calvary College as a part-time Lecturer. In addition, Elphas has written and published numerous books based in business, marriage and spirituality, as well as being Founder and Senior Pastor of the Freedom Centre International Church. As a result of his sharp business acumen, Elphas was offered the role as Executive Manager for Eswatini Association of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (ESASCCO) where he effectively led teams across various departments. He oversaw Administration, Finance, Training, ICT and the Insurance departments. Elphas has consistently excelled in improving performance and has enjoyed many successes throughout his career, which is evident in the success of the organisations in which he is involved. Elphas provides a significant contribution to the long-term sustainable growth through his extensive experience, vast administration knowledge and impeccable business leadership abilities. His implementation skills are forefront in overall strategic development, and his involvement in business ensures ground-breaking improvement in performance. He is a resourceful professional who has a passion for the development of commerce and the progress of human capital within business, ensuring and facilitating significant growth and financial health of an organisation.