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Leading Through Uncertainty: How Umpqua Bank Emerged from the Great Recession Better and Stronger than Ever

Leading Through Uncertainty: How Umpqua Bank Emerged from the Great Recession Better and Stronger than Ever

Raymond P. Davis

ISBN: 978-1-118-73302-8 November 2013 Jossey-Bass 224 Pages


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From the CEO of Umpqua Bank, the essential leadership practices that allowed the West Coast’s largest independent community bank to emerge from the economic crisis even stronger than before

In this follow-up to the successful Leading for Growth, Umpqua Bank CEO Ray Davis shares the tactics and strategies  that have allowed Umpqua to grow and succeed in the toughest economic environment. The results are clear: despite years of economic uncertainty, Umpqua has continued its upward trajectory—expanding from five locations in 1994 to more than 200 today. Davis’s approach can help leaders recalibrate their approaches, no matter what the industry or market upheaval they face. 

In Leading Through Uncertainty, Davis shares a concise set of smart, actionable leadership practices that leaders can use to navigate their businesses and teams through difficult times. These include focusing on honesty and transparency, motivating and inspiring employees, building an outstanding corporate reputation, paying attention to details, and more. By showing leaders how to maintain a clear value proposition and strong leadership, Leading Through Uncertainty will help any company secure a lasting foothold in any economy.

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Foreword by William C. Taylor ix

Introduction: The Great Uncertainty xiii


Chapter 1: The New Normal 3

Chapter 2: The Truth, Nothing But the Truth 23

Chapter 3: Problems and the Healing Process 39

Chapter 4: Control and Uncertainty 51

Chapter 5: Exercise Your Intuition 65


Chapter 6: Be Really Good at the Basics 81

Chapter 7: The Value of a Value Proposition 91

Chapter 8: Be Available 103

Chapter 9: Motivate and Inspire 113

Chapter 10: Leverage Your Assets 125


Chapter 11: Reputation Counts 137

Chapter 12: Create Buzz (But Manage Crisis) 147

Chapter 13: Build Momentum 161

Chapter 14: Practice Incremental Evolution 171

Conclusion: Lead On 181

Notes 185

Acknowledgments 191

About the Authors 193

Index 195


“Ray and his colleagues have remained true to their values, their belief system, their distinctive point of view about what their company could be and the role it could play in their customers’ lives. In a book filled with powerful insights, pragmatic takeaways, and colorful stories, this to me is Ray’s ultimate lesson, and one that applies in good times and tough times.”
—From the Foreword by William C. Taylor

“I’ve always believed that great leaders know when to stay the course, adjust, and reinvent. Ray Davis articulates this and much more in Leading Through Uncertainty, helping leaders understand the importance of outlining a vision and strategy. Ray’s smart and practical thoughts on leadership provide great insight, and leaders at all levels will benefit from reading this book.”
John Chambers, chairman and CEO, Cisco

“Ray Davis understands the complexities of leading effectively regardless of the economic environment. The advice in Leading Through Uncertainty is excellent and will improve both your leadership skills and results.”
Tim Boyle, president and CEO, Columbia Sportswear

“Ray Davis’s Leading Through Uncertainty is thoughtful, insightful, and—perhaps most importantly—fundamentally practical. For those who want to make a difference in their organization, this is a must-read.”
Diana Oreck, vice president, Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center

“Not many companies can say they’ve emerged from the economic environment of the past few years stronger than they were before it began. Ray Davis can. In Leading Through Uncertainty, he shares the real-world insight and business practices that today’s leaders need to navigate the uncertainty and opportunity of the 21st century economy.”
—Gary Hamel, author, What Matters Now

“Ray Davis is that rare combination: a visionary with the straightforward voice of a pragmatist. He understands that today’s companies must be flexible, transparent, and customer-centric—and Leading Through Uncertainty provides a clear roadmap for anyone in a leadership position on how to get there.”
—Ed Herlihy, partner, Wachtell Lipton