When times are great and things keep going your way, the ability to lead can seem like an easy thing to do. When things stop going your way, times get harder, people start worrying and leadership takes on a whole new meaning. The real test of one’s leadership ability takes place in times of adversity.
Leadership is defined in the dictionary as being able to guide others in a certain direction, to be out in front. It’s tough being out in front when bullets are flying at you from all directions. Yet your troops are constantly looking to see how you respond to the bullets. Your actions will dictate how they act. In the face of adversity, actions always speak louder than words.
Here is a check list of 5 things you need to be doing on a daily basis to lead others (even your customers) to victory in times of adversity:
1) Be Honest- People want the truth! If you can’t tell the whole truth, tell them what you can. Donald Rumsfeld is a great example of this during his war briefings. When asked questions on issues he can’t answer, he simply says I can’t address that now. Rudy Guiliani did the same thing when he couldn’t address certain issues after 9/11 for security reasons. What people want is to know what they can expect and what you your expectations are. They don’t want surprises.
If you are perceived to be telling lies or mistruths, then you will have lost the respect of your team. It is impossible to lead others who do not respect you. It is also impossible to effectively lead others when you operate outside the boundaries of integrity.
2) Be Optimistic- In tough times, it is very easy for people to get stuck in negative feelings, to feel their world is coming to an end and there is no hope. People are always in search of hope, even in good times. Your job is to constantly instill hope in others and provide as positive an environment as possible to bring out the best in everyone.
3) Maintain Self Sanity- It is ridiculous to think you can avoid the same feelings of despair you are trying to help your team deal with. We all have emotions and fears. However, your leadership abilities are greatly diminished if you become a victim of these emotions and fears. Find an outlet for release. Whether it be exercise or venting your frustrations, you need to clear your mind so you can effectively lead yourself and your troops through the tough times. President Bush claims his 1 hour daily workouts are critical for his ability to address today’s challenging issues.
4) Commitment and Discipline- In tough times, it is easy to lose focus and act on impulse. These impulses can take you off the track to your desired destination. Commitment and discipline are key attributes one needs to exhibit in order to overcome hurdles and achieve desired results. This is no time to accept excuses why certain results were not attained. You need to be creative to find new ways to achieve the original desired results. Titans do not live with excuses. They find solutions to make things happen no matter what the circumstances are.
5) Think Outside The Box- In times of adversity, it is easy to retrench and be married to your rules and regulations. Times of adversity require creativity and many times that means moving outside of your box and creating new strategies that fit the needs of the people you are trying to serve.