As with anything in life, there are highs and lows. When you’re in a leadership position, the highs you experience in business are more rewarding because they are multi-faceted. The highs usually involve a combination of business goal achievement, rewards/recognition from above, shared success with the team and the satisfaction of knowing your vision, coaching, and strategy is what enabled the team to achieve success. Naturally, the lows can feel just as low. People who rise to the level of leadership are driven and crave achievement. Even when failure is outside of their control, they will internalize it and feel a sense of responsibility and guilt for the loss/error. Worrying about the team’s emotional state after a loss only adds to the weight on a leader’s shoulder.
Most seasoned leaders will tell you, though, that it was their failures that facilitated growth more than their successes. The tough times challenge us to work harder, think more creatively, step out of our comfort zone, and appreciate the wins so much more. The way a leader pulls a team together through struggling times or after a failure is far more revealing than how a leader performs when they’re already winning the game. Here are some steps you can take to help lead through difficult times:
From time to time, most leaders feel like they’re wading through quick sand. They know they worked a full day (often longer than 8 hours) and yet, the to-do list never shortens or becomes less urgent. They blame unnecessary meetings, redundant reports, and the unpredictable nature of having to put out fires for their lack of time, but rarely are those really the root cause of the problem.
I found myself in a similar position recently. While feeling that my efforts weren’t making an impact on the endless list of high priorities on my desk, I blamed the situation. It’s the perfect storm of illnesses, holidays, year-end activities, budgeting, forecasting, doing extra work due to open positions on the team, recruiting, and then on-boarding new team members. I kept saying to myself “just get through the next few weeks, and then it will ease up. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”Read More
Does this scenario sound familiar? You identify a common skills gap within your team and express your concerns to HR/Leadership. They agree and say they’ve seen a similar issue. You ask for support/funding to train your team. You know they need it, and HR knows they need it, but senior leadership is reluctant to allocate the necessary budget. After all, they just spent tens of thousands on an updated virtual video library for their LMS.
Often, identifying the skills gap and the training/coaching solution is far easier than getting budget to fix the issue. Additionally, using a basic ROI equation like ROI (%) = ((Monetary benefit – Training Cost)/Training Cost) x 100 is short-sighted.Read More
The snow on the ground and twinkling holiday lights visible during the 5pm commute home in the dark serve as reminders that December is upon us and it’s time to wrap up the year. Some may say it’s the most wonderful time of the year! ‘Tis the season for giving after all! Specifically, it’s the season for finding joy in giving with no expectation of getting anything in return. The Grinch in me finds it almost poetic that December also means it’s time for annual performance reviews—the season of giving hours of consideration to ratings, comments, and feedback with no expectation of experiencing change or rewards in return.Read More
When Richard Branson walks through the airport greeting Virgin Atlantic employees and chatting away with customers, we applaud him for taking time to appreciate others. A little thing like saying hello goes a long way. Taking a personal interest in team members and expressing concern for the challenges they’re going through builds deep connections that break down the office walls. Sending a thank you note, being on time, and saying please…these are all little things that are widely believed to make a big difference. Thousands of leadership development books suggest when you pay attention to the little things, big things will happen.Read More
While people-watching at the airport recently, I witnessed a shocking interaction. The gentleman was clearly a business traveler. He was wearing a professional suit with recently polished shoes. He looked anxious and impatient as he paced in front of the gate area that should have been boarding any minute. Aside from the pacing, though, his demeanor seemed calm. He was on the phone with someone and was listening intently to what they had to say. Every few seconds, he’d say “uh huh….ok….hmmm….ok” so it seemed like any normal business phone call full of rushed details before boarding a flight. And then I heard the man say “Ok, well, why don’t we try this…” in the same volume and tone as all of his hmmm’s and uh huh’s. But then the tone changed.