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Managing Yourself In Difficult Times


The ultimate measure of a man is not how he stands in a moment of comfort, but how he stands in a moment of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you are a leader, you need to remember these words of Martin Luther King. Also remember the challenge of Winston Churchill to his nation when they were under the severest of attacks from the Axis forces. He challenged them to behave in such a way so that history would look at these days as their finest hour. There is no question as a leader you will face opposition, disheartening challenges, and formidable obstacles. But never forget—people are always watching the leader in adversity. They will be checking out your reactions and responses, and the way you handle yourself will have a tremendous impact on how they stand or fall. The pace of culture today ensures that leaders must have greater poise, agility and patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty and conflict. How leaders respond to these and other growing pressures is an indicator of their leadership preparedness, maturity and skill. You may send a formal email to assure the team, but the leader’s responses will be gauged by factors far more up close and personal than that. The composure of a leader is reflected in their attitude, body language and overall presence. A premiere quality of today’s leaders is making certain that the people who work for and with him/her feel safe and secure. People usually will only do their best when they are not working in survival mode. The best employees want to be part of a workplace culture where they can do their best work without the fear of losing their jobs. Tremendous credentials and outstanding ability will never compensate for an inability to remain poised and composed. Lacking the ability to remain calm will make employees uneasy. Do you know anyone you suspect is in a leadership role that is too large for them to handle? Chances are, they are too emotional, too dramatic, and too often problems quickly launch that leader into crisis mode. Effective leaders must be able to deal with real, authentic crisis and change. He has to be able to reinvent himself, she has to be able to adapt to new situations without collapsing, or tenure will be short, unsuccessful, and unsatisfying. An effective leader in crisis sees the adversity through the lens of opportunity. Instead of rushing into a major panic, or withdrawing into a cave, a poised and effective takes a step back and looks for bright spots of opportunity in every single challenge. No matter how adverse the circumstances, she sees some pockets of opportunity. She studies them, and then connects the dots to show others how we can thrive despite the obstacles. These types of leaders refuse to blame others, but they do identify the causes of adversity and work on solutions immediately. Effective leaders also do more than solve the immediate problem and capitalize on the opportunities surfaced by the problems. They learn from the situation to see what could make the adversity less likely next time. The truth is, there are many crises that never need to occur. Sometimes a leader without composure turns a small issue into a full blown crisis with his lack of composure. Our next few blogs will look at the necessary behaviors and skills for steering the ship safely through times of storm and crisis.

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