Let’s face it. Anyone can drive a boat in smooth waters. It takes a real captain to pilot your way to safety during a storm. Same is true in business leadership. If everything is clicking on all cylinders, it is easy and most managers can make due. It takes a leader to navigate during difficult times.
noun –A person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.
noun-A person who inspires others to do what’s necessary.
We know that these words have been interchangeable for years, but in reality a process manager cannot last in times of crisis. It takes a leader to navigate the complexities of human emotion, to inspire the team to want to overcome this perceived problem.
Here are 7 traits of world class Leaders in times of trouble.
- They remain calm. As many of you know, I was once in the military, and nothing sends panic to the troops faster than a flustered emotional leader. If you want a mission to fail, Yell, scream, and show your frustrations. Just as dangerous is to shut down completely. The calmness needs not to be perceived as apathy.
- Keep the goal forefront. Too many businesses are taken off their long term goals with short term problems. The chaos of the day must be managed, but the end goal, the plan, the long term can never be forgotten nor ignored.
- Show the way- Nothing worse than a leader who barks orders and then retreats into their office, only to bark more orders. I get it. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your team is to work the phone, call in support, talk to clients etc… but nothing inspires your team faster than working with them in the trenches to solve the perceived crises.
- Trust– You have trained your team for times like this. Show them the trust to get it right. If you are like me, this is difficult, especially when time is a factor. I want to just jump in and fix it for them. What does this accomplish? It fixes the immediate problem, but sets you up in future problems to have to do it again. Trust your team to do the right thing, but verify the results.
- Be decisive– Have you had a manager that couldn’t make a decision? One that wanted everyone to sign off because they didn’t want to make the wrong decision? This is not a leader. This is a process manager and should never be in charge of people. Set a goal, Make a plan, executer. Simple.
- Communicate– During times of change and struggle it is important for leaders to clearly communicate to the teams. Nothing will frustrate someone more than not knowing why they “have to work late.” Or they suddenly “have to do someone else’s work.” Transparency is the key. Communicate Communicate Communicate. Did I mention Communicate?
- Be thankful– Have you ever had a boss who after some crisis went on like nothing happened? I am telling you now, a thank you for your extra effort will go a long way. In the current economy your team has choices. They can always get another job. But it’s so much harder for most employees to leave a job where they are truly appreciated and the leaders are grateful for their efforts. The time of shut up and do your job are over. Support, thankfulness, guidance are the new “Get it done”.
Management has changed. Leadership has changed. To survive in business, you must lift your team up on your shoulders so they can see the finish line. If you do, they will lift you up higher than you could have ever expected.
Next time we talk about underperforming teams. How do you motivate them?