If there was ever any doubt about the importance of a leader’s ability to navigate change, uncertainty and disruption, the global COVID-19 pandemic made the importance of these skills abundantly clear.


In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Zucker and Darin Rowell provided strategies that accelerate a leader’s ability to continually learn, evolve and navigate progressively more complex challenges.


Embrace the discomfort of not knowing

This discomfort is an expected and normal part of the learning process. Shifting your mindset to embrace it will help ease that queasy feeling by relieving you of feeling like you should have all the answers.


Distinguish between complicated and complex

Complex challenges contain many interdependent elements, some of which may be unknown and may change over time in unpredictable ways. While there may be no shortage of opinions on these topics, there are also no clear solutions. As a result, solutions to complex challenges typically emerge through trial and error and require the willingness, humility and ability to act, learn and adapt.


Let go of perfectionism

In a complex environment, the context is continually shifting; thus, aiming for perfection is futile. Instead, aim for progress, expect mistakes and recognize that you have the ability to continually correct your course as needed.


Resist oversimplifications and quick conclusions

It’s tempting to oversimplify complex challenges to make them feel less daunting. For example, breaking a challenge into its respective components can help you feel like you have greater command of it, but it can also narrow your view and obscure critical interdependencies, giving you a false sense of security.


Don’t go it alone

As the complexity and volume of our workload increases, our natural tendency is to double down on our focus and individual efforts. Instead, this is when it’s most important to cultivate the practice of intentionally reaching out to your network and beyond for insight and perspective.


Zoom out

No, this isn’t about videoconference meetings! Instead, zooming out, or taking a broader view, allows for greater adaptability and course correction when needed.