Blog Post

Leading in Times of Uncertainty: A Practical Guide

Cornerstone Editors

Today’s HR leaders must respond to unprecedented waves of change that are reshaping every aspect of the employee experience. Organisations and leaders themselves need to develop new strengths to address the challenges and opportunities which tumultuous market shifts bring.

An experienced learning practitioner on how to lead through uncertainty

Kimo Kippen, founder of Aloha Learning Advisors, has a passion for lifelong learning and talent development. His prior roles include chief learning officer at Hilton and VP of learning at Marriott International. Kimo notes the crucial role authentic and compassionate HR leaders can play in ensuring employees thrive rather than struggle, particularly during times of adversity. Read below the five top leadership qualities that Kimo suggests HR leaders nurture in uncertain times.

Five top leadership qualities that HR leaders nurture in uncertain times:

1. Determine your purpose — be more self-aware

Leaders need to first turn inward to develop “greater self-awareness.” Only once they know themselves can leaders become truly aware of their impact on others and how they are perceived. One key piece of self-knowledge is to decide on your own “purpose” in the world.

Kimo advises leaders to develop a “global perspective and appreciation” for inclusivity and diversity. By adopting a worldview, leaders can arrive at their true “vocation.” Kimo’s mission is “to create greater access to learning and education,” which can then change people’s lives.

2. Take a breath — be more empathetic

As leaders consider how to move ahead in challenging times, they must think about how they can build trust with those they’re leading so that everyone can advance together. Leaders need to come across as authentic, earnest, sincere, compassionate and empathetic.

Kimo advises HR leaders not to be afraid of hitting the “pause button” to take a breath during times of rapid change and decision-making. “This is not a sprint — this is a marathon.”

3. Stay resilient — be more in balance

When thinking about the course of a leader’s life, Kimo suggests the analogy of a wheel, where all the different dimensions of existence–work, home, spirituality, etc.–combine to fill that wheel. The key question leaders need to ask themselves daily is, “Are you truly in balance?”

Kimo advises leaders work on achieving a balanced life and consider how to stay resilient. He emphasises pursuing a healthy form of resilience in terms of exercise, sleep diet and faith.

4. Everything matters — be more intentional

Every action an individual takes in any area of their life has an impact on how they conduct themselves. Recognising that “everything you do matters” helps leaders adopt a more intentional approach to their work, how they lead and how they lead by example.

Kimo advises HR leaders to actively embrace the more intentional attitude towards employee engagement that changes in the medium of engagement may cause. For instance, he emphasises the shift from daily office life to virtual communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Pivot for the future — be more creative

Now, more than ever, HR leaders need to pivot and reframe their positioning and strategies to meet what Kimo calls “the next normal.” On the upside, significant ongoing change will also present tremendous and previously unimaginable opportunities.

Kimo advises HR leaders to “up their game” in providing lifelong and organisational learning for employees. Leaders need to improve their creative mindset to stay agile, shifting from a previous “all-knowing” attitude to adopting a “real-time flow” approach to problem-solving.

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How well is your organization managing today’s rapid, unabated rate of change? According to employees, 41% don’t believe they have what they need to develop their skills, while 59% are on the lookout for more career guidance. So, it has never been more important for HR leaders to stay current with the latest trends and understand what they mean for their people and organization. Yet, more than 60% of organizations aren’t leveraging AI technology to optimize their talent programs.

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