7 Tips From CEOs On How To Eat Uncertainty For Lunch

How to lead with confidence in times of uncertainty? Seven members of Vistage International weigh in.
Vistage International
September 30, 2011

Today’s business owners and CEOs are constantly being tested. Faced with volatile markets, shifting customer demands and economic uncertainty, the only thing most business leaders are certain of is that there’s more change ahead. So how do you continue driving your business forward? We asked seven members of Vistage International, a CEO peer group organization, for their insight on how to lead with confidence in times of uncertainty.

1. Encourage your team to take down the monster

I'm very open with my management structure. I brought [issues related to the downturn] to the table so everybody knew what was going on. Then, [we developed] some strategies. Throughout it, [we tried] to maintain a perspective of: “Here's a challenge, let's fight this monster and let's take it down.”

— Dave "Rat" Levine, President, Rat Sound Systems, Inc.

2. Be ready for any possibility

Have contingency plans. If you’re on shaky ground, you would benefit from many legs.

— Aaron Mandelbaum, CEO, StyleQuest 

3. Act as if you have a solution and game plan already in mind

Your energy is exactly how your entire company will respond. So even if in this uncertain time you have no idea exactly how you're going to pull this off, when anyone can see you, you’ve gotta have no sign of fear, and no sign of doubt at all...Because everybody feeds off of your vibe and everybody goes off of your energy.

— Patti Regan, President & CEO, The Regan Group

4. Nurture open and honest communication

Having just led a 50-employee company through a successful Chapter 11 reorganization and now an impending sale, I would say open, honest communication and the appropriate level of detail to all employees and stakeholders is key. If you don't harness their energy and have their support, you’re sunk. If you have it, you at least have a fighting chance.

— Greg Hulsizer, CEO, South Bay Expressway, L.P.

5. Don’t get caught up in external chaos

If you're a leader, things are going to happen that are going be out of your control, and you have to control what you can control. People get caught up in conversations about the economy, and what the Fed's doing, and what the president's doing...but at the end of the day, when you're running a business, you have to keep your eye on the ball, on the business.

— David Faye, CEO, Faye Business Systems Group, Inc.

6. Have a clear and compelling vision

Providing an inspiring and exciting vision of the future that defines the purpose behind the work is the key to leading, period. The companies that are growing today are doing so because they are about something larger than the products they make, or the services they offer.

— Kari McNamara, Founder and Managing Director, Ahead of the Curve

7. Check your ego at the door

Get your ego out of the way. It really is key when it comes to uncertainty. And identifying or relying on a network of professionals who have seen it or done it and having the ability to allow yourself to accept their opinions or suggestions.

— Todd DeMann, CEO & Chairman, Freshology Inc.

Marc Figueroa is Vice President of Brand Communications for Vistage International, a CEO membership organization that serves more than 15,000 business owners and executive leaders around the world. Marc has enjoyed a 20-year career in communications, consulting for such clients as Hyatt Hotels, DirecTV, Jani-King and UPS. His work also has appeared in a variety of publications, including Success Magazine, the Orange County Register and Las Vegas Review-Journal. Prior to joining Vistage, Marc served as Director of Marketing Communications for Robbins Research International.