The Challenge of Leadership Today
It’s easy to skipper a luxury liner in calm sunny seas. Not so easy in a storm. The response to big waves will mark out the true leader.
The world has changed and the need to manage changed circumstances has brought new challenges. New challenges need to be addressed and wherever there are challenges there are people.
In a turbulent world, turbulent leadership won’t work. As Dwight Eisenhower said “You do not lead by hitting people on the head, that’s assault, not leadership”
Leading today must look at ‘morale’ When jobs are being lost and fear is abundant, managing people in a conscientious way is more important than ever. They are your business and they are your brand.
A New Vision
Leadership without a clear vision is not a dream, it’s a nightmare. Vision, a little like the horizon, is an ever shifting goal. Great leaders embrace this and reset their compass to reflect new conditions and new dynamics. Those waiting for the tide to turn may just run out of fuel, people and power.
Vision needs to be reset and managers need to understand the destination with absolute clarity. The role of a leader is to create that vision. The role of managers is to deliver the destination.
Followers and staff imitate leaders. Good leadership defines the brand, great leaders make sure managers and followers buy into and deliver the brand. In stormy waters, the rapid rise of a bad leader is a certain path to sinking fast. To quote from ‘Can you manage?’ “Perish the thought of pirates getting into positions of power” For sure; a storm will expose their true ability.
Good leaders do not loose their cool. Good leaders listen. Good leaders stay calm. Good leaders remain objective and good leaders don’t panic. Good leaders are tough but fair. Finally, good leaders earn respect and are not consumed or confused with popularity.
As Tony Blair said “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes, it is very easy to say yes”
Twenty Points to Consider When Managing Low Morale
A storm frightens lots of people. Some thrive, some perish, others panic. We are all different and the loud bang of thunder, big scary seas and dark clouds will elicit a kaleidoscope of reactions. What frightens me may not frighten you, what inspires me may not inspire you but one thing is sure, a simple message will have many different interpretations. The need for a measured response to a threatening climate was never more important.
John Quincy Jones can teach us a thing or two. On leadership he said;
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
Below are 20 points to consider when managing low morale;
- Level with staff. The truth. Most people can handle the truth; it’s the false promises that create mayhem.
- Integrity is earned not broadcast. Respect is crucial, popularity dangerous. Within reason, share the challenge and invite help. The answers always lie within.
- Avoid ‘team building’ outings. They are like fireworks – fun, exciting, short lived and useless. Real team building comes through sharing hard work. Hard work delivers tangible results. Tangible results create pride and pride inspires the next steps
- Make time (but not too much) for one to one chats. Different people have different needs, respecting that will take you to your vision much quicker. When you listen, listen with care.
- Ask for help from your troops. The answer and the response will teach you lots.
- Avoid future promises of great rewards. Easy to do, tempting even but difficult to deliver. Sometimes some people won’t make it to the future.
- Break the challenge into cohesive daily bite sized chunks. You can’t solve everything in one day but a week can be a long time when doing the right thing, the right way.
- Avoid huge burst of unreal mega optimism. Dangerous and misleading.
- Have time to reflect, to pause and to re think. Every map needs to be revisited especially when you are not too sure of the road ahead.
- Stick with facts, not fiction. Remember that smart guiding light “Move from we think to we know”
- Set clear and measurable short term goals. The big picture is not today, the future is now.
- Be equal and be fair. There is no time for favouritism, politics or personal agendas.
- Remember motivation comes from achievement. Achievement comes from sheer hard work. Do that and results will follow.
- Kill inertia. There is no time to do nothing.
- Lead by example, lead from the front. Be human and be seen to be human. Today, we know Superman doesn’t exist. If he does, he’s late!
- Create a fail safe environment, an environment where it’s encouraged to voice a new idea and an atmosphere where it’s safe to try and safe to fail. Now is the time for ideas, innovation and creative thinking.
- Squash gossip, gossip leaders and toxic thinking time. There are enough external threats to contend with.
- Encourage and share wisdom. Create a culture that encourages expertise to run through your entire organisation
- Restructure yourself as well as your business. Encourage your people to do the same.
- As a leader you are creating your future image and your legacy. When the storm is over, ask yourself how you would like to be remembered. A provocative and guiding thought.
Storms and Storms
Storms eventually pass. Waters will calm and clouds will give way to sunshine. The lessons we all learn in a tough turbulent world are precious lessons for our future. Good leaders will prevail and the natural order will be restored.
No matter how tough, challenging and difficult, remember that wonderful saying
“When you are going through Hell keep going”
The Golden Years
The future is today. The golden years are now. The outlook and strategy we choose defines not only our present but our future and our legacy. It’s easy to manage in sunshine but surviving a recession is where the real reward and the real learning lies.
Paths get blocked, roads run out and highways disappear. It leaves a stark choice. Find a new path or fall off the edge.
The excitement and challenge of reimagining and reinventing yourself, your people and your business is a wonderful challenge. Like everything else, you choose how to look at the glass and you choose how to relay that to your people.
As the song goes, and what a good time to sing it “Always look on the bright side of life.”