5 Simple Ways to Lead in Uncertain Times first appeared in Wolf in the Workplace, the newsletter of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC.
Leadership today, due to uncertain economic times, plays an even more important role than ever before. The role of a leader now means more than just managing the bottom line. It means always remembering that your first priority is your people. Great leaders never forget that their employees are the keys to an organization’s success!
As an executive coach, consultant and former CEO, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of successful leaders at every level who perpetuate the growth of their companies, departments or teams.
I have found that successful leaders practice the following Five Simple Leadership Skills—all based on developing people. The result of implementing these skills keeps people focused, reduces anxieties and fears, reduces turnover, and makes employees feel loyal and positive about the company they work for.
The late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, said, “Communicate everything to your associates (he called everyone an associate); the more they know the more they care. Once they care, there is no stopping them.” Because of the downturn in the economy, people feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. They are also worried about cutbacks and layoffs. Communicate everything to them by letting them know what is happening in your company, team or department. Open the lines of communication with everyone and let them know that you care not only about their involvement in the workplace, but in their personal lives as well. A leader places a high value on human capital
When you praise people you inspire loyalty and encourage them to perform great work. Praising also creates positive energy in companies when people are continually being praised for doing good work. Great leaders go out of their way to praise people. I like to call it, “Catching people doing something right!” When praising people, do it in a timely fashion, make it specific and try to make it public in front of their peer group. Use statements such as, “Thanks for getting that report in so quickly. You handled that situation nicely. That was an interesting point you brought up in the meeting. We couldn’t have done it without your help. I can see you’re improving in that area; keep up the good work. Your contribution is really making a difference on this project.” Leaders realize that people drive organizations. Praising your people will keep them motivated, inspired and full of positive energy!
People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it! Humor helps people through tough times, reduces absenteeism and brings them closer together. Many major companies believe so strongly in having fun at work that they now have two CFOs, the traditional Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Fun Officer. Humor in the workplace reduces stress and absenteeism. When people are having fun and laughing, the brain produces a chemical called endorphins, which helps heal the body and makes them feel good. Humor breeds creativity. People are more willing to take chances and be more creative if they don’t have to worry about making mistakes and can laugh at their mistakes. Humor also helps workplace relations by opening up lines of communication and gets people united. Leadership has to set the tone. Laugh at yourself and you will find that your employees will find you more approachable and that having a good time at work is acceptable.
Great leaders realize that in order to be successful they have to create more leaders at all levels of the organization. Empower your people; nurture the development of leaders. Don’t just delegate work; delegate decision-making powers to people. When people have the authority to make important decisions, they feel part of the organization, and they are more likely to remain part of the organization. You will make your people better and more motivated. By empowering your people, you are allowing them to reach their potential. When you fail to empower people, barriers are created that people cannot overcome. If these barriers remain long enough people give up and leave. Many of those people go on to become great leaders at other organizations.
Coaching is a process that increases productivity, builds teamwork, motivates employees to elevate performance levels and helps people overcome obstacles to their success. A great leader spends time working with individuals to see the blocks in their performance. A successful leader and effective coach are one in the same. People do not and will not change until they see the need to. A good coach listens to people to find ways to break down the barriers that keep people from reaching their full potential. They must then work with their people to outline a plan of action that clearly states the goals for improvement and accountability. Coaching helps people learn, grow and change. It provides a powerful structure through which people can focus on specific outcomes, become more effective, and stay on track.
The success or failure of an organization and their people during these uneasy and turbulent times lies in the hands of its leaders. Uncertainty calls for strong leadership that can successfully guide people through troubling times. Your people need to become inspired and motivated to help them adjust and be productive employees. By utilizing these Five Simple Leadership Skills, you will see how attitudes will be changed and the workplace will become a very positive and nurturing environment.