If a leader buckles under the pressure, and gives in to his or her worst habits, that’ll do much more damage than in regular times. Really, almost all leadership practices are applicable to both challenging and usual times. The difference is that when times are good we have higher tolerance for bad behaviour and less-than-ideal performance.
Tough times bring more scrutiny, more attention to detail. They also often invoke war-time metaphors and jargon. That does make sense, given that war is something most consider unpredictable and chaotic, but I’d caution against using too much of business-as-war talk. Your employees are not soldiers to be sent to some glorious battle and die for a spectacular cause. There is no glory in sinking economies.
What does change in this context are the expectations of the leader on the speed and courageousness of decision making. Now it’s important to accept that it’s impossible to clarify all the uncertainties, and that there’s more risk than usual. In other words, spending few more weeks to analyse or “see how it goes” might not be the most prudent decision. Are you learning the right things? Reaching out to your customers and supplier to learn more about their needs is something you don’t need to wait for.
Above paragraphs are excerpted from the interview I did with Charlie Katz of the Authority Magazine. We had an in-depth discussion, addressing following issues:
- the critical role of a leader during challenging times,
- what can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team,
- best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers,
- making plans when the future is so unpredictable,
- “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times,
- most common mistakes I have seen businesses make during difficult times,
- strategies business can use to keep forging ahead and avoid losing growth traction during a difficult economy, and
- five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times.
You can read the full exchange here: