Recession Proof Leadership

5 Keys to Leading Through Challenging Times

There are 5 keys to leading effectively during challenging times. They aren’t necessarily difficult, but to ignore them will certainly make your life more difficult.

We know for certain that burying our head in the sand and pretending that nothing is going on is positively insane. It’s like a 2 year-old child closing their eyes and saying, “you can’t see me”. Of course there’s something different in “business land”. In fact, it’s that very difference – the current challenges we face – that we need to use as a call to action.

  1. Credibility is a mustIf ever leaders needed their credibility to lean on, it’s now. The simplest definition for leadership credibility is to simply “do what you say you’re going to do”. Your employees – now more than ever – need to look to you for guidance, leadership, and appropriate behaviour.The bigger statement, of course, includes making sure you take a definitive stand on those things that bring comfort during turbulent times – and then following up (doing what you say you’ll do) on those strong statements.In other words, take the tougher route. Make difficult calls, step up when no one else will, and take command of an otherwise un-led situation. Be in charge! Your employees need it, and the organisation could stand the leadership.

  2. See and be seenVisibility is a big deal. Now’s not the time to hide out in your office, pining away the days or lamenting for better times. Get out, be seen, be available, and most importantly, be heard. High visibility, coupled with credibility, is a near-guarantee of success in uncertain times.These times are challenging; challenging for the business, for employees, and for you. But there’s opportunity in challenge … you’ve just got to be there when it happens. And “there” is out in the open, in front of the troops.Back when we had real warrior generals, “Brigadier” Generals led a brigade of men … from the front of the brigade. Not back at some remote headquarters location, sitting in air conditioned comfort while others went to battle. No, they were visible, and literally out front. 

    Those leaders led. You can to. “Management by walking around” is a good concept for current times. Get out there.


  3. Remember - you were young once

    Put yourself in employees’ shoes; this is uncomfortable, and there are plenty of unknowns. Lots of things are changing around them, and they are neither fully aware of the rationale - nor in control of - those things changing.Even in times of more positive change, the first to buy in are those who either:

    1. Control / direct the change, or
    2. Are experiencing change that is positive to them personally

Cut them a break – you’re not always easy to live with either, remember? Your employees - at least those sticking with it, trying to perform, succeed, and persevere - deserve our respect.

Those who aren’t? Well, now’s a good time for a change – dead wood never has a place in a successful organisation; it has even lesser status during challenging economic times. We all need to pull our weight – who wants to lug around someone else’s gear?

  1. Want cheese with that whine? No open complaining, commiserating, or whining. Not now (assuming it was ever ok - which you know, of course, that it isn’t) especially. Your staff don’t need to know that you feel as out of control as they do. It doesn’t help them, or you, to believe that things are hurtling out of everyone’s control.Better to convince them that hard work, strong performance, and effective leadership will prevail. Because, of course, it will. You must know – and believe - that. Or bail out.Face it – if you believe your organisation has one foot in the grave, leave and go somewhere else. Otherwise, you believe it will emerge from these times, and in a better place.

    Either / or - but make a call one way or another. If you’re sticking around, never forget to “work for whom you work for”. And as a leader, that means “no whining”.

  2. Sit down and focusFocus is paramount, especially when there’s an unseen drag on earnings called “the economy”. Help people understand as best you can, explain why things are happening (when you know), and why we’re taking this specific action.But in the end, they’ve got to do what’s necessary to help your organisation weather this storm, so just do it can become the fall-back phrase of choice. Don’t allow so much discourse that we forget why we’re here.They want to vent? Ok, we’ll allow that. Employees want to complain a bit, because petrol prices are high and milk has doubled. Ok, fine. Now, get back to work.

* Authored Kevin Berchelmann,
   Human Capital Expert .
0434 185 933