Topic of the Week Leading in Challenging Times
- DO see it from their point of view.
- DO over-communicate.
- DO celebrate.
- DON'T expect your people to be blind.
I Used To Rule The World: Leading in Challenging Times
Leadership is always difficult, but our current roller coaster economy can make it seem downright impossible. Which reminds me of a conversation with my daughter Frankie when she was five. The year was 2009 and she said, "An evil stepmother can kill the queen." This didn't sound like something she'd come up with on her own, so I asked her where she'd heard it. She replied, "It was in a movie." What movie, I asked. "It's a Barbie movie, coming soon, in the spring of 2007."
Who knew that my kid has such encyclopedic knowledge of DVD trailers past their sell by date? Unfortunately she is not alone, far too many leaders are living in the past trying to simply dredge up old solutions for tackling today's challenges. Our current economy is unlike anything most of us have seen before, up one minute, down the next. So we have to explore new strategies. That's why I've listed three Do's and one Don't, below, for leading more effectively in troubled times. For more, check out "The Taboos of Leadership" by Anthony Smith (Wiley, 2007).
DO see it from their point of view. I've learned that the most effective leaders are often the most empathetic leaders. The days of "drop down and give me twenty" bosses are behind us. To really motivate people today you've got to understand where they are coming from and that takes insight into their fears and motivations. Listen to your people, what they care about and where they're headed and you'll be much more successful.
DO over-communicate. Fear creates a place where rumors can spread like wildfire. I've seen many offices paralyzed for days over a piece of news from the rumor mill that turned out be false. That's why it's so important to go out of your way to over-inform and over-communicate with your people about everything you know.
DO celebrate. There is more than enough bad news out there. It can drain the life-force of even the most optimistic person. That's why it's so important to celebrate, regularly. I'm talking about a simple "atta boy, or girl," a surprise pizza party or giving an unannounced afternoon off for a job well done. Be the kind of leader that people actually want to work for. Remember to get loyalty you have to give it.
DON'T expect your people to be blind. I once got an email from a bookkeeper for a doctor's office. She said that her boss told her he didn't have the money to give her a raise. She wrote, "I take care of his money, I know about his boats, his vacations and exactly how much money is in the business's bank account." As a leader you need to understand your people watch you, they talk about you and they know more about you than you realize.
Follow these tips and your people won't want to kill the queen or the king at work, they'll be watching your back instead.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.