Leading in the Land of Fear and Pandemonium

Leading in the Land and Pandemonium

Leading well in challenging times requires facing fear head-on.
Fear is a tough opponent because of its ever-changing, amorphous form. There is no singular method that eliminates fear from people’s hearts and minds. Yet in anxious times of doubt, leaders will either rise or fall.

Historical examples

We see many historical examples of seemingly fearless people who, in uncertain times, stood unwavering and emerged as revered leaders. Winston Churchill stood against the growing evil of a tyrant, Adolf Hitler. Nelson Mandela stood against South African apartheid—the systematic segregation discrimination based on race. Eleanor Roosevelt fought for women’s rights, and Rosa Parks sat down in front of a bus to stand up against hatred and segregation. During challenging times, these leaders displayed incredible courage, and offer us lessons in leadership.

When fear prevails, business leaders can stand resolute in tough times because of their beliefs. Great leaders are birthed by having a profoundly deep belief in something, and the strength of conviction to stand for that belief, no matter the cost.

Principled leaders

It’s not only in the grand, dramatic moments that leaders are shaped, but also in the dark, unseen moments of life. A true leader isn’t clawing to the top at any cost; a true leader is living a principled life at a high price. Principled leaders are worth following because their vision and actions are focused on the greater good; they are not swayed by gimmicks or influenced by the cheap and easy. A leader’s role in the world is one of influence that emanates from a transparent and ethical foundation, and those that follow them know it.

During times of fear and uncertainty, excellent leaders are calm, steady, and decisive. Leaders listen to wise counsel and make thoughtful decisions. Leadership replaces fear with respect and trust, and benefits the most people in the best possible way. Leaders acknowledge the darkness, the unknown, and the fear; they don’t taunt or flirt with it, but also do not avoid it. True leaders continue to walk steadfastly through the land of unrest.

So, how is leadership accomplished during times of uncertainty? Here are three things to consider:

  1. Slow down, to go fast: Two indispensable aspects of leadership are speed and decisiveness. Yet to benefit from those attributes, you need to first slow down in order to understand the situation. Build time into your schedule for thinking, meditation, or contemplation. Discover the best strategy for moving forward. When schedules are jam-packed with meetings and racing from one thing to the next, there is no time to contemplate internal strength and live from that place. A leader who can slow down and think through the situation clearly, can lead from a place of strength and not reactivity.
  1. Listen to sound advice: Even if you are confident about the direction in which you are headed, don’t shy away from getting feedback from trusted sources. A leader’s life is not to be lived solo. Don’t make decisions in a vacuum. In the book of Proverbs, verse 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Listening to wise counsel in the short term can ensure the sound direction for the long term.
  1. Reset your true north: When fear reigns during anxious and uncertain times, it can reveal our worst traits as human beings. We can veer off course and even become greedy and selfish, or exploitive and opportunistic. We tend to lose sight of who we are, what we stand for, and why we are called to lead. When challenged by fear, go deep inside yourself to reestablish your values and purpose, so you can think outside the box for those you are leading, and for humanity in general. Alter business plans to accommodate and aid people who might need it, especially in these uncertain times of COVID-19. Look for something new, a shift, an opportunity, not to profit yourself, but for the greater good.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are examples of both good and bad. Innovative companies are shifting focus to benefit their employees and for the greater good. Conversely, there are rampant rumors, spreading of misinformation, and exploitation of the elderly. Great leaders set the tone and lead the way to create good and to benefit those who cannot achieve it themselves. Don’t let fear paralyze you from discovering your next innovative solution in these crazy times of anxiety and pandemonium.

For the past three decades, Tom Flick Communications has helped organizations to move faster – with less chaos – in a changing world. Let me know how I can help.