September 7


Coping with the Cone of Uncertainty

By Sara Canaday

September 7, 2010

corporate, emotional intelligence, hurricane, leadership, storms, uncertainty

sara canaday coping with uncertaintyEarl.  Fiona.  Gaston.  Yes, hurricane season is in full swing, and the lead story on every news program recently has been the weather. On each one, the certified meteorologist provides us with up-to-the-minute satellite views and sophisticated 3D models from the National Hurricane Center. It’s all very scientific.  Except, of course, for what they call the Cone of Uncertainty. Great name, isn’t it?  This describes the ominous bubble floating around the specific paths predicted by those scientific models. The Cone of Uncertainty simply means that, despite all of the science and research, we won’t know exactly where the hurricane will hit until it does.


In many ways, the Cone of Uncertainty exists in the business world as well. Sure, our companies might be chock-full of brilliant Harvard MBAs and seasoned executives who can produce impressive forecasts for market share and revenue.  But the truth is, we never know in advance precisely what’s going to happen – with the marketplace, our customers or our competition.  So which organizations tend to be the most successful at coping with this economic Cone of Uncertainty?  Inevitably, the winners are companies led by people who know how to improvise, adapt, and overcome challenges as they occur.  These leaders can think quickly to resolve conflict, strengthen their teams and inspire their colleagues, even when things aren’t going according to plan.  The common denominator among these leaders is a high level of Emotional Intelligence.


I have seen first-hand that more companies are recognizing the inherent value of Emotional Intelligence and taking steps to help their employees develop and enhance these skills.  Likewise, professionals seeking to boost their careers and increase their marketability are capitalizing on Emotional Intelligence as a key differentiator.  Today, the most successful leaders don’t necessarily have prestigious degrees and professional certifications.  Instead, they tend to have real-world experience or “street smarts.”  They have self-awareness and empathy.  Excellent communication skills.  The ability to genuinely listen to others.  People who are well-rounded and emotionally savvy have the skill set required to efficiently lead groups toward a common goal, despite adversity and a full gamut of unexpected events.  


The bottom line?  Emotional Intelligence is the fuel that accelerates good leaders into great leaders who are prepared to successfully cope with the Cone of Uncertainty.  Is your company helping its employees increase their Emotional Intelligence to weather the unavoidable economic storms?  Have you made efforts individually to raise your emotional IQ?  Feel free to share your challenges and results!  I’d love to hear about your experiences.


Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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