13 Min Read

Leading Through the Fear of Uncertainty


Problem: During times of considerable uncertainty, some managers give into fear. As a result, because they don't want to make a mistake, they limit their opportunities and growth strategies.

Opportunity: Even uncertain times can lend themselves to significant growth. However, business leaders have to pay attention to the changes happening and open their minds to doing things differently than in the past.

Resolution: Learn how, as a leader, you can reassess leadership during uncertainty. Further, understand how to align leadership and learn how to pivot into growth strategies and opportunities—and away from fear.

Faith-based nonprofit groups, as well as businesses and communities, are in the midst of a highly uncertain recovery period. As we know, the current climate challenges us with twin problems. The first is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant difficulties for the healthcare system. And, the second is the economic challenges that arose as a result of stay-at-home orders. In effect, less money getting spent by consumers and into the economy. However, disruption is almost always an opportunity for your organization to reset. Learn about the thinking leaders have to reconsider to reset how they approach growth strategies for their organization.

Recently, I had the privilege to share my insights about fear and growth strategies during uncertain times. Stan Reiff, Partner and Professional Practice Lead for Consulting, CapinCrouse interviewed me about leadership amid uncertainty. If you want to view and listen to the full webinar, you can do so here. You can also access the Velocity Strategy Solutions free resource, 8 Things Leaders Say When They Fear Change, discussed as part of the webinar.

Growth: Two Qualities for Adaption

In the work we do as growth architects in business management consulting, we find leaders need to have two qualities for adapting. As we know, these are unique times, and we don't have to go deeper into the profound set of challenges the crisis released in our organizations, communities, and culture. Still, as businesses, churches, and faith-based nonprofits seek to get past this, leadership is essential. In fact, sound, reliable, and consistent leadership are necessary to adapt. The propensity to adapt gets seen in two ways:

  1. Awareness by the leaders to adapt to changes, even if it means doing things in wholly new ways.

  2. The urgency of leaders to adapt, primarily around growth strategies and revenue development.

As a result, leaders have to understand what's transpiring in the marketplace and with donors.


The reality is that what's happening in society is not necessarily the creation of something new—even if groups get forced to operate in new ways. What is happening is an even more rapid acceleration toward the changes that are already taking place.

The only difference was that in growing your organization during the good times, you didn't have to ask youself the tough questions.

Uncertainty is where leadership becomes even more essential. Leaders shape the teams, organizations, and even the people outside of organizations.


It's easy for leaders to talk about growth strategies when times are good, but it gets harder when times are tough.

And, everything a leader says or does has ramifications. Nevertheless, it's essential to lean into the idea of growth. And, that means understanding and facing fears that can make it harder to move forward and thrive. It also means developing awareness for leadership and creating urgency toward achievement and success—even in the midst of uncertainty.

Understanding the Bias Toward Growth

The first place to begin is to understand the degree of bias toward growth. In other words, when leaders face uncertainty, they may create insulation in the marketplace for protection. In reality, it's just the current business as usual. So, to seemingly protect their groups against risk, they try to maintain operational redundancies.


But, when there is massive disruption, as there is now, it becomes more about how confident leaders are in the future.

Therefore, what has to happen to ensure growth strategies by leadership teams is that they have to know how to pivot and prepare. Knowing how to pivot quickly and well is a sign of good leadership—and winning—in times of uncertainty. And, again, that comes with understanding and overcoming the fears that set them back.


A leader who has a bias and posture toward growth, who asks the hard questions, is going to show up differently than a leader who leans away from doing the hard work toward growth strategies in uncertain times.

The energy, creativity, and momentum that the leader who leans toward growth is going to be substantially different than the organizational leader who does not. So, how can you identify leadership biased toward growth, or not?

  1. Ask yourself if you double down on what your group currently does without asking the tough questions. For instance, in your business growth team, how do you focus on the highest revenue sources, and why do you do it?

  2. Not realizing that past failures can kill you just as much as significant failures is another warning sign. For example, you have to ask yourself the question if your primary revenue is at maximum capacity. So, are there future growth opportunities you have not tapped for growing your nonprofit?

8 Leadership Statements Limiting Growth

If nothing else, during this time with the pandemic and downturn in the economy, we've learned that continual change is normal. It's not a new normal. Instead, it is now expected because we live in the digital age.


Since we left the industrial age and moved to the technology and information age, we have to get used to continual, disruptive, and massive change—always.

By definition, that is what the information age means. Thus, to succeed in this environment, leaders need to know the eight fear-based statements that prevent healthy growth strategies and limit organizations.

  1. “We need to cut edge initiatives and redirect those funds to existing lines of business that are in decline.”

  2. “Data is helpful, but I’m trusting my gut on this one.”

  3. “We can’t afford to implement acquisition strategies right now.”

  4. “Our strategy is to go back to the basics and do what we know how to do.”

  5. “We can’t afford to focus on lifetime value.”

  6. “Everything is a priority, and everything must perform at projected revenue levels.”

  7. “I value my leadership team because of their loyalty and years of service.”

  8. “We are committed to achieving the kind of growth we know, understand, and are prepared to experience.”

What Leaders Say When They Fear Change

Your thinking as a leader is the frame through which you interpret the world. And, how you view the world, whether it's through a lens of fear, or with a heavy bias toward growing your nonprofit, determines your success or failure.

So, now that you know the eight statements that can cut short your growth, know this—the other side of fear is freedom. Download the FREE resource, 8 Things Leaders Say When They Fear Change, and learn why those statements are fear-based. But, more importantly, gain clarity and confidence to lead your organization through any uncertainty.



Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.

Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.

Topics:   Leadership