Leadership in Uncertain Times

Ed O'Malley
Ed O’Malley is the founding president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center and a former member of the state’s House of Representatives. He is also the co-author of three books related to the work and mission of the KLC. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Joanna, and they make their home in Wichita, Kansas, with their three children.

Uncertainty reigns. The pandemic and associated economic strife define the era. We face collective questions: What do we value most? What is the connection between health and the economy? Personal questions are ever present too. Should I attend the funeral? Should we send our kids to school? What is my obligation to the common good in this moment? How do I mobilize progress during great uncertainty?

That last question is especially haunting for those trying to lead during this great uncertainty, when our instincts, our go-to behaviours, can fail us. We want to provide answers, but often we aren’t even considering the right questions. Our default is to declare the way forward, but it may be that different experiments testing multiple ways forward is the wiser route.

Leadership is often about defining problems and solutions. But how does one do that when even the smallest definitions evade solidity and moral trade-offs are everywhere?

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