Admit it. How often have you been willing to say, “I don’t know,” to a roomful of colleagues? Giving voice to genuine uncertainty is simply not done in most corporate corridors, whether the issue is markets, projects, competition or almost anything else. Declarative sentences (“We will . . . ”) aggressively elbow out their conditional cousins (“Depending on what we learn, we might . . . ”). How many times have you heard or even said, “Any decision is better than no decision”?
Such stout resolution, designed to move an organization forward, has its points. But three new studies suggest that 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.