Now, all Six Degrees of Leadership come together in the final one: to lead. Of course, each degree is an aspect of leadership. To anticipate or to navigate is to lead, just as much as to communicate, to listen, or to learn. But the mix of them is where leadership becomes a verb—through the crisis curve.

We know what makes great leadership. As outlined in the Introduction, based on 69 million assessments of executives, the best-in-class who are among the top 20 percent have four distinguishing qualities. The first three are largely intuitive: (1) sets vision and strategy; (2) drives growth; and (3) displays financial acumen. The fourth is managing crises, which is too often underappreciated and overlooked—until a crisis hits.

Managing in a crisis is all about handling ambiguity. Of all the problems that executives face, 90 percent of them are ambiguous. With greater responsibility comes more ambiguity. Everywhere you look, there's ambiguity and all its synonyms: uncertainty, obscurity, vagueness, doubt, puzzle, and enigma. You're in the thickest of fogs. The problems that you, as the leader, face today are not only ambiguous, but the stakes have never been higher. What was business as usual just months ago has radically changed. Now it's business as “unusual.”

Fortunately, you're not alone.

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