Leading Through Uncertainty (Part I – Reality Check) – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: March 30, 2019

In case anyone has been living under a rock for the last 20+ years, there is little debate that our marketplace continues to grow more intense, complex, and uncertain. As senior executives and the top talent on their teams strive to build sustainable, high growth businesses, there is the ever-present challenge of leading through uncertainty in today’s fast-paced marketplace.

I had the privilege last week of speaking to a group of executives in San Francisco on the topic of Leading Through Uncertainty. There was a tremendous amount of interest in the topic by those who attended, and I wanted to share components of my talk over the next several Weekend Reflections for Leaders.

The first part of leading through uncertainty is to acknowledge the reality around us. The likelihood that we will build a business or pursue a career that will be smooth sailing for 20 or 30 years is pure fantasy. It was probably the dream of parents and grandparents that a Post WWII economy would enable a long and enjoyable career with one great company, but this is not the reality that today’s business leaders face.

The enclosed slide outlines some of the disruption that has taken place over the last 40+ years. As a family, we personally experienced this disruption as my grandparents came to the USA and started a small family grocery store, Esposito & Sons, that grew well in a post WWII economy. However, with the rise of large, convenient grocery store chains, we abruptly had to close the doors of the business in late 1970s and figure out a new way to make a living.

Since that time period, there has a been a steady stream of disruption upon those once “great” businesses who were not proactive in addressing emerging marketplace forces and have become insolvent. Healthcare and education are the last two major segments that are beyond ripe for massive disruption and with players like Haven (Amazon-JP Morgan-Berkshire Hathaway’s healthcare venture) and Kahn Academy (and many others in the education segment). The next five years…not the next few decades, will witness tremendous strides to make our experience more efficient. Those efficiencies we experience will be drawn out of the cash flow of once “great” organizations that were too slow to change.

As senior executives and the top talent on their teams work hard to drive growth in a challenging future, it is imperative that they possess the courage to face the reality in front of them. Facing the truth in an open and honest way will enable talented teams to begin to build effective plans to deal with the reality and prepare for a brighter future…and it will not be easy.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? 

Here are a few resources to HELP YOU:

  1. Download FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com
  2. Contact me. Email: david@harvesttimepartners.com (M) 269-370-9275
  3. Check out my book, Looking Back-What I Learned When I Left a Great Company, for helpful insights on leadership, building a great business, and winning the war on top talent.

David Esposito