One of the key tests of leadership is the handling of challenges and difficulties within the organization. Periods of turmoil raise the personal stress level and anxiety of all members. Particularly in periods of uncertainty, where there is a vacuum of leadership, followers will create their own story as a way of creating certainty. Too often the story differs from what the organizational leaders wish to communicate and in the absence of strong leadership, a story will be created.
I invite leaders to focus on three things during a difficult or challenging period:
1. I encourage leaders to be mindful of how much of their day is spent behind closed doors and what message that might be communicating to the organization. In challenging times, visibility within the organization is crucial to strong leadership. Members need to see their leaders.
2. I encourage leaders to spend time listening to their members. Ask them what their experience is? What their concerns are? What they feel is most pressing based on what they see?
3. I encourage leaders to wake up every morning and ask this one question, “What can I communicate today?” and then communicate it. Too often leaders fall into the trap of saying nothing because they don’t have all the answers.
I would offer that true leadership in today’s global and integrated world isn’t about having all the answers. Organizational members are most reassured by consistent leaders. Ask yourself, what one key action can I introduce within my leadership practice today. Notice what happens when this one practice is used consistently.