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How To Lead During Uncertain Times

Uncertainty is the new normal. Learning how to effectively lead during uncertainty is the new requirement. Thankfully, Larry Robertson’s new book, Rebel Leadership, teaches you how to thrive in uncertain times – times that are volatile, complex and ambiguous. 

“There are two big realities we must understand,” explains Robertson. “Both are vitally necessary to the long-term survival and success of any organization.” 

“The first is to accept the landscape for what it is today—to see it not as distant and unlikely to affect you, nor as temporary or episodic.” 

“The second is to concede that the way most of us have reviewed leadership in the past, and the assumptions we’ve made about what makes it work, have passed their expiration dates and must change.” 

In Rebel Leadership, Robertson presents thought-provoking, actionable, refreshingly new ways to lead during turbulent times. The concept of rebel leadership is a “cultural mindset,” explains Robertson, and his shared insights in the book are deeply rooted in what works in actual practice. 

From over 300 in-depth interviews with some of the most creative and successful leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs across the globe, Robertson captured the five patterns that rebel leaders use to describe what really matters: 

  1. Let Them Laugh, Soul Matters Most
  2. Leadership Moves
  3. It’s the Culture, Stupid
  4. Your Power Source is Your Superpower
  5. The Long View Matters – Right Now 

Please read the book to learn the meaning and power behind each of the five patterns. 

Larry Robertson

Today, Robertson shares these additional insights with us: 

Question: Why did you write the book? 

Robertson: For as many leadership books and best practices as there are, few address leadership in the context of today. The world we live in is now more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous than at any time of our modern history – and it is increasingly so not periodically or episodically, but all the time. In such a world, leadership can’t take the forms it traditionally has. I wrote this book to explore more deeply how we can lead effectively in the challenging landscape that has become our “new abnormal.” 

Question: In a sentence or two, what is rebel leadership about? What is it not about?

Robertson: The leadership most of us have been taught is no longer “fit for purpose” in an uncertain world. Rebel leadership is about matching “how we lead” to fit the environment of this wobbly new century. 

Rebel leadership is not, however, about a static, formulaic, or recipe-driven approach to leading. It’s better thought of as providing a flexible framework, one that if used collectively and as a matter of habit, can cultivate not just better leaders, but cultures of leadership. 

Question: Of the five patterns, which is the most important and why? 

Robertson: What’s most important isn’t any one of the five patterns, but instead realizing that the patterns are at their most powerful in combination with each other. 

Just by looking at the five patterns you begin to see their interconnection:

  • Soul matters most;
  • Leadership moves;
  • It's the culture, stupid;
  • Your power source is your superpower; and
  • The long view matters – right now.

Rebel leadership isn’t a checklist of things that will help you succeed where the object is to check off as many of them as possible. It’s about creating a mindset ongoing, one understood and shaped through the framework that these five patterns together form. 

Question: After reading the book, what couple action items do you recommend leaders take? 

Robertson: First, accept that this new abnormal in which we all now live and work is our new reality, and that within it, adaptability – ongoing and collectively pursued – is our chief competitive advantage. 

Second, make the time to read this book, and frankly to read. Rebel Leadership is built to be compact, action-oriented, and quick moving. Reading remains one of the most powerful and accessible tools leaders have available to them, and time spent reading and reflecting will affect you more than virtually any other tool or technique you could practice. 

Finally, right now, today, let go of the hero story of leadership – the solo journey, the single person source of ideas and answers, the leader-as-hero who will save us all – and realize that succeeding, not just once but repeatedly, is a collective act. 

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.


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