Leading with Uncertainty
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”
— Bertrand Russell (British philosopher)
It’s hard to know where to turn for reliable guidance. The Information Age makes every day a new baptism in the fire of bits and bytes. Trust is scarce, and conviction is in suspicious plenty. What, then, of the ethereal concept of Leadership?
I started this blog in the summer of 2018, amidst a series of life changes, all the while navigating the parallel privilege of leadership in research. The blog was, and still is, an open diary; a necessarily selfish quest to pour out and organise the thoughts of an incessant over-thinker. But in this position of uncertain leadership, there is something to give. At a time when researchers are calling out for modern, empathetic leaders, I think there is value in showing that leaders don’t have all the answers. None of us are divinely inspired with the ‘best way’ to inspire those in our care.
Every blog in this series should leave you with a question, not an answer. From my stories, and the stories of those who have inspired me, I’ll continue to offer my thoughts, but the take-home will always be the closing question. These questions are the breadcrumbs with which I hope you can develop your own position of leadership responsibly, with care, and with the desire never to abuse your position.
My promise remains to give open leadership questions rather than overconfident answers. There is no pandering to any group, or hashtag, or taboo consensus. The questions I leave at the end of each post refer to you, as an individual. No responsibility will ever be deferred to the royal ‘We’, or to the collective under whose shadow you might be tempted to seek excuses for inaction.
In keeping with the spirit of my promise in this leadership development offering, let me end with this:
How might you learn to ask better questions of yourself?
Dr Marc Reid is a PhD chemist, academic research leader, and safety entrepreneur based in Glasgow, Scotland.
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