Leadership: The Sky is Falling

15 Mar 2010 3:30 PM | Heather Kaye (Administrator)

Successful leadership is a challenge in the best of times. It seems the news cycle is stuck in a repetitive loop of reporting economic disaster. A dash of anxiety can be motivating, but we are being fed heaping helpings of fear, resulting in immobilization and inner stress. Now we have to ask, how do we best lead in the worst of times?

Few of us have been challenged with wide spread survival scenarios in business. As business sectors shrink, along with our workforce, how do we galvanize employees and keep them focused and engaged in creative and productive mission oriented solutions?

Start where you are.

It's time to get real. No matter what business you are in or what challenges you face, the simple fact is, it's best to understand the situation and accept what is - right now.

You may question your ability to stay clearly on course and be able to move through this period with fluidity, stability and a feeling of trust. To extend your strengths to others, you must be yourself: honest, and open to listening to concerns and ideas. Being honest these days means owning up to not knowing the answer to every question.  It's better to share your own uncertainty than to put on a false front of bravado. Your honesty and integrity show up in your fierce adherence to what you believe in your principles, your people and your ability to adapt to changing circumstances. No matter what you say, remember your presence is what communicates the loudest, not your words. As a leader, you are called to stay steady in the eye of the storm.

Open up to possibility. Stick together.

A good place to start is with what is working and allow that to be your jumping-off place for creativity. Make it a practice to share this with every member of your team.  Resist closing down, and keeping secrets. Encourage fresh thinking to find innovative solutions and possibilities. You may uncover problem areas in the process, but now is the time to put everything on the table. Use this challenging time to discover what can be done together. In times of stress, we are more prone to err. To "err is human, to forgive divine" wrote Alexander Pope in An Essay on Criticism. Let the simple mistakes go easily. Use the bigger ones as teachable moments. We all need to be accountable, but no one benefits from blame or ridicule.

Get personal. Show compassion, generosity and forgiveness.

Stay present, know your people and connect with them every day. Find out what's going on in peoples' lives. Brain scans now prove people are endlessly scanning their environment for connection - they can tell viscerally if they are being listened to. Show your compassion by actively listening.

Expressions of personal caring mean the world to people and will go a long way in building trust and maintaining loyalty. Don't be reluctant to approach a struggling employee and ask what's going on in their life. If there's a personal issue blocking their ability to show up 100%, give them the time, support or resources needed to bring them back to their full potential. Your generosity will be repaid multifold.

Focus on the intangibles (what is motivating, engaging, trust-building) and you will get tangible results.

News Flash

Take time out.  Be with your family and friends just to unwind and talk. It will help you relax and maintain your creative edge. Of course time management is a perennial problem. Stay clear about your priorities. Get your wants and needs met. And you know if it's not on your calendar, it's not happening.  Remember to always find ways to give back; consciously be of service to others. It will enrich your sense of self and strengthen your connection within your community.

If you find you need additional support - get it. You deserve it. That's what a good coach is for.

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