3 Ways to Lead in Uncertain Times

Leadership is always vital in a not-for-profit. But uncertain times call for special attention to leadership tactics and techniques.

Authored by: iClick2Learn Team

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3 Ways to Lead in Uncertain Times

Level-headed, focused leadership is essential in any organisation, especially when working with not-for-profit volunteers. In uncertain times, like a global pandemic, fear and confusion can cause people to lose sight of their mission/purpose and even doubt the importance of their work.


Instability negatively impacts morale and productivity. That’s why leadership behaviour is never more critical than in uncertain times. Strong leadership supports calm and confidence so staff and volunteers can continue their vital roles in the organisation. 

Find Stability

Many things cause widespread concern and worry: economic instability, the pandemic, the impacts of global warming, and more. When things feel unstable, leaders should reflect on their tone carefully. A panicked tone from a leader can send everything into chaos.

You can create an environment of stability by focusing on constant things. For example, your organisation’s mission/purpose and values are unwavering. Our detailed guide How to Create a More Stable and Calm Work Environment can help. [link to tool] Print it out and reference it regularly to ensure you’re supporting stability in your organisation.

Practice Empathy and Recognition

Successful leaders aren’t afraid to acknowledge challenges and obstacles. Instead of putting on a brave face and minimising concerns, open the lines of communication. Allow people to express their fears and anxieties freely so you can address them productively.

By recognising and empathising, you create a culture of safety. When people are supported, they feel more confident. Acknowledging unsettling circumstances makes others feel heard and understood, leading to greater productivity and focus.

Model the Way for Others

Leaders set the tone. But leaders can also use some support as they face new challenges and circumstances. Here are a few tips to help you model the way for others in uncertain times:

  • Keep health and safety first
  • Practice active listening 
  • Encourage everyone to communicate, ask questions, give feedback
  • Embrace being human and vulnerable
  • Hone your self-leadership skills [can link to Self Leadership Blog]
  • Regularly remind yourself of your values, goals, and strengths and encourage others to do the same
  • Give positive feedback, acknowledge achievements, call out individual contributions, strengths, and successes


Humans have evolved to survive all kinds of stressful events. Not only do we survive, but we find ways to thrive. Strong leadership in unstable times can help your organisation find unique, creative solutions to unfamiliar challenges. As a result, your organisation can enjoy a renewed sense of pride and confidence.

It’s worth noting that high tensions and fear can sometimes cause conflict in uncertain times. If you’d like to learn more, check out our video on Conflict: How You Can Create an Ethical and Effective Workplace Using Simple Strategies.

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