How do you lead in times of turmoil or growth? The answer is: leadership and communication. In times of turmoil, people look to leaders to lead. All too often in corporate life, however, these times are when leaders run and hide.
To that end, here are ten things leaders need to do in times of turmoil and growth:
- Be seen and seen often. Their teams need to see them as a constant even when everything else is changing. When the leader can’t be seen, there is no unifying element to help make people though the transition. Their constant presence will help the team digest the turmoil in the organization.
- Embrace honesty. It is best to acknowledge the issues and mistakes that led to this situation. When you are honest—even when honesty is difficult—you build a foundation of trust with your team. If they trust you are direct with them about the severity of the storm, they are more likely to weather it with you.
- Set out the plan. As a leader, your job is to help your people understand how the organization is going to get through this tumultuous time. You must strategize and communicate your plan to the team, with a set framework and guiding principles that forge a path to success. However, it is never a bad thing to have an ear open for suggestion. I always say, “None of us is as clever as all of us.”
- Roll up your sleeves. Leaders need to work hard and be seen working as hard (if not harder) than everyone else.
- Situate yourself on the front lines. Leaders should be with the troops, not in their ivory towers issuing instructions from on high. This image of the leadership from afar reminds me of a line from a Pink Floyd song, “Forward they cried from the rear and the front ranks died.” While I love the lyric, the idea behind it is wrong.
- Communicate regularly. If you have any doubt about how much communication is too much, err on the side of over-communicating.
- Encourage, don’t discourage. I will refer to a nugget of wisdom from my mum, here: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- Put your feelings to one side. This time is about your people, not about you. A true leader puts his people first and him or herself second.
- Stick to your principles. Principles are easy to keep until they are tested. At times like these, you must have the courage of your convictions.
- Find your patience. Haste makes waste and in times of growth or turmoil, you can’t afford waste.
Leading in times of turmoil or growth is not for the faint of heart. It takes a leader to keep it together when the going gets tough. Show your team you are the leader they need to get to the other side of this time, and they will reward you with an organization that will follow you to greatness.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Colin is proud to be recognized by Brand Quarterly’s as one of the ‘Top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders over 50’.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX