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How Leaders Should Navigate Long-Term Uncertainty

Written by: Quy Huy

Imagine having to sell a totally new, game-changing product with no samples, no prototype, not even a realistic rendering. The only thing certain about it? A hefty price tag. Now imagine you have to sell this product not just once, but repeatedly, to the same people, over a period of years.

The entrepreneur’s predicament is akin to the above. To obtain the money to build their dreams, founders must solicit the very people who can least afford the luxury of dreaming: high-stakes investors. Fantasies purveyed by Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den and other television shows notwithstanding, a successful first-time pitch is only the start of a fundraising journey through Series A, B and C rounds (and possibly beyond). A founder needs far more than unbounded self-confidence and big promises to go the distance.

And investors are not the sole stakeholders who require continual convincing. Founders must repeatedly replenish their employees’ faith in the future value of stock options or risk losing top talent to competitors offering more money and job security.

Organisational change managers face a similar dilemma. They, too, must secure and renew buy-in from stakeholders above, below and alongside them in the corporate hierarchy. Their plans and promises must be plausible enough to persuade stakeholders to undergo the time, effort and discomfort of, say, switching to a new business model, or merging with another company. As with entrepreneurs, they must also marshal enough support to retain forward momentum despite inevitable setbacks.

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