Leading in Difficult Times

Many times in leadership we stand on deck at work and feel the ship is burning. The ability to show courage and commitment in tough times is a key to gaining long term creditability. The classic mental image of a captain taking charge during battle has inspired many soldiers to achieve many great victories in American war history.  The bravery of the leader is often the difference between winning and losing.

Fire Danger High

Some leaders look for a life raft when the going get a little tough. The notion that the grass is always greener on the next ship is an attractive thought during tough times at work. However, changing  jobs for the wrong reason can rob  you of the opportunity and experience to be seen as a true leader.

The greatest times to learn to respect the captain is when they show real determination  in leading others through adversity. Those opportunities make or break the reputation of  leaders.

The most important factor for leading in tough times is the level of commitment and attitude in our work careers, our relationships and our long term happiness. A great hall of fame coach once told me that “Attitude is everything!” Being positive and getting people to believe in that new direction is very critical to winning!

Fire risk alerts are always “High” for today’s leaders.  Being the point person means you should always look for warning signs for pending fires: These signs may require a urgent response which can be a game changer for your reputation:

  • Low staff morale and distrust
  • Are you losing good people?
  • Can you attract the best to your office?
  • Are you making progress in solving some of the stress points with your actions?
  • Are your mistakes starting the fires?
  • Does your approach inspire teamwork from others?
  • Are your policies updated and do they create stability to potential fires?
  • Are you proactive in planning or do you react to problems?
  • What problems are you pretending not to know?
  • Does your action  inspire others to work together?
  • Are you making the right decisions that build trust?
  • Is your attitude what you want others to follow?
  • Are you worried about protecting your reputation more than doing the right thing.

No matter how successful you are in your career or your personal life, we typically have at least one “burning ship” or forest fire that is burning all the time   As leaders, we must take this opportunity to confront the fire by changing our behavior or efforts to contain it. Leaders who can focus during these heated times are usually the ones who are promoted and we all have a desire to follow.

What type of leader do want to follow when the ship is on fire? Can you name some of the behaviors that makes a great leader?

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